LMWS Blog: Mental wellbeing in a pandemic
This year has brought difficulties for everyone and, though lockdown has begun to ease, many of us are still struggling with our mental wellbeing. However, our specialists at LMWS have shared some tips to get you back on track – including our free online course designed to help you cope with both the pandemic and its aftermath.
Is it normal to feel this way?
‘Lack of motivation, lack of interest in things, having more down days – these are all completely natural responses to a global pandemic,’ says Katy Linvell.
Anxiety has been a common issue too, as the pandemic has sparked our ‘fight or flight’ response. ‘It’s a very primitive and very smart mechanism that signals that we might be under threat. It’s developed over millions of years to keep us safe,’ says Mathilda Hall.
Although lockdown is lifting, this shift can pose new challenges too. Steph Wetherhill recommends choosing one or two activities to help you gradually acclimatise.
‘Your anxious feeling is trying to keep you safe and it’s a difficult thing to switch off as soon as rules change,’ says Steph. ‘Take things slowly and start reintroducing activities in a graded way so you don’t get overwhelmed – like going swimming at a time you know the pool will be quieter.’
Would an online class help?
The LMWS class has been specifically designed with the pandemic in mind. Available to everyone registered with a Leeds GP, it uses proven cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) techniques to help you manage your wellbeing whatever the future holds.
‘Through CBT, we work to understand the physical, emotional and behavioural impact of the pandemic, and how we can make physical changes to calm the body like breathing and progressive muscle relaxation,’ Iain Cullum explains.
As our routines continue to change, this can cause difficulties both at work and in our personal lives. ‘We look at ways that routines have changed, and how they can be adjusted to improve wellbeing,’ says Iain. ‘By the end of the course, people feel able to practice the techniques they have been taught and feel more in control of their wellbeing.’
How does the class work?
The online class meets for one 2-hour session a week for four weeks. Your microphone and camera are switched off, but you can interact through the ‘Live Chat’ function, staying anonymous if you prefer. Participants each receive a workbook to take notes in class and then practice in their own time.
‘The online group gives you the chance to learn practical techniques you can use throughout your daily life,’ says Nikita Wilton. ‘Many participants also comment on how helpful it is to work with others who are experiencing the same challenges.’
The class is also much quicker to access than one-on-one therapy, as you can sign up directly via the LMWS website.
‘We cover far more content than many other therapies. You have access to three or four practitioners every session, as well as the support of the group,’ Nikita says. ‘It’s a simple and effective way to boost your mental health and get back to enjoying your life.’
What other services are available?
This class and its practical techniques can be very helpful, even after the pandemic has passed. However, if it’s not for you, you can check out our other classes, refer yourself to LMWS, speak to your GP – or try our Omnitherapy service for immediate online support.
Alternatively, the Samaritans have a 24-hour helpline if you need to speak to someone: call 116 123 for free at any time. Visit MindWell for a range of services and self-help guides, while men struggling with their mental health can visit Andy’s Man Club for local peer support.