Mind Matters – Looking forward to restrictions easing? Preparation and resilience

25 January, 2020 / by Nicholas Rose

Epiphany is a strong word but it is the only one that goes some way to making sense of my experience one evening this week. I was just leaving my local Tesco, I reached for the antibacterial hand gel and I was momentarily jolted back to the time before COVID-19, before the now routine and mundane action or hand cleaning in Tesco existed, before the antibacterial display, the lockdowns, the restrictions, the constant stream of sad news about lives lost, infections, impacts, uncertainties and changes. It was uncanny and it set off a little accelerated movie in my mind, a little replay of the year just passed and it got me thinking about what it might mean.

As we come up to the first anniversary of when COVID-19 became a reality for everyone, it is natural for us to find ourselves reflecting. Everyone has their own unique story and experience from the last year, but what we do share is how it has confronted us all with change, uncertainty and loss.

We are used to the years passing and having some years that contain events that change us and our lives powerfully and fundamentally, a bereavement, illness, accident, relationship but ordinarily, while the event might change how we are in our daily lives, it is not the very fabric of our everyday experiences that change so substantially.

We notice the changes that stick out against a backdrop of what we experience as mainly, seemingly, indistinguishably, reassuringly the same. The same old skylines, shops, restaurants, bustle on the streets, traffic flows and road layouts, people out doing their errands, walking their dogs – all provide a sense of sameness, security and ease. We notice the opening of a new food outlet, the changing of the ranges in our local shops, the dog walker who has a new pet, or the new mum’s – all these serve to drip feed uncertainty, loss and change into our everyday experience. Yes we know things change, that things are uncertain and that loss and transformation are a part of life but this is a point in time, for our generation at least, like no other.

To some degree we have been shielded, the restrictions and the crisis have created an experience of time being put partly on hold and as such everyone has, depending upon the direct impacts they have suffered, been able to put off being fully confronted by what has actually changed in the wider world. We have been able to modify our behaviours that prepare us for the future we knew was coming, like more online shopping and greater use of technology whilst also reassuring ourselves that this is temporary, to be patient, to focus on what we can do, to hold on to hope, the thought things will get better and that this will pass because we know that to be the case from our own experience, from history and our ancestors. But what my momentary epiphany led me to think was that we are all about to experience something profound and need to be prepared.

As the restrictions are lifted and we start to resume some of our old routines, we are going to be confronted with a whole year’s changes combined with the many others brought about by COVID-19. There will be so many changes to the people we see, who serve us in the shops, who walk on the street, take our same bus, so many businesses that have changed – a whole year of changes and then the COVID impact. The closed Debenhams stores, changed road layouts, the collapse of Norwegian, Chiswick’s own Cath Kidston and many, many more.

For all of us, the easing of the restrictions will be a bit like coming home after being away for a year but with the amount of change leaving us wondering whether we have been away for ten. When we experience change we also encounter loss and that triggers heightened emotions, loss is painful and new circumstances, even when we feel excited and positive always require energy.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns there has been significant empathy and consideration for mental health but in many ways the easing of the lockdowns and the attempts to return to an old / new normal will require as much, if not more kindness and compassion. Take good care.

Emergency helplines:

  • Samaritans. To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email jo@samaritans.org or visit some branches in person. You can also call the Samaritans Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day).
  • SANEline. If you’re experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
  • The Mix. If you’re under 25, you can call The Mix on 0808 808 4994 (Sunday-Friday 2pm–11pm), request support by email using this form on The Mix website or use their crisis text messenger service.
  • Papyrus HOPELINEUK. If you’re under 35 and struggling with suicidal feelings, or concerned about a young person who might be struggling, you can call Papyrus HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141 (weekdays 10am-10pm, weekends 2pm-10pm and bank holidays 2pm–10pm), email pat@papyrus-uk.org or text 07786 209 697.
  • Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). If you identify as male, you can call the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) or use their webchat service.
  • Nightline. If you’re a student, you can look on the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
  • Switchboard. If you identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you can call Switchboard on 0300 330 0630 (10am–10pm every day), email chris@switchboard.lgbt or use their webchat service. Phone operators all identify as LGBT+.
  • C.A.L.L. If you live in Wales, you can call the Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L.) on 0800 132 737 (open 24/7) or you can text ‘help’ followed by a question to 81066.
  • Helplines Partnership. For more options, visit the Helplines Partnership website for a directory of UK helplines. Mind’s Infoline can also help you find services that can support you. If you’re outside the UK, the Befrienders Worldwide website has a tool to search by country for emotional support helplines around the world.

Nicholas Rose
Psychotherapist, Counsellor, Couples Counsellor and Coach

UKCP registrant, MBACP (accred), UKRCP
PGDip, MA, Adv Dip Ex Psych

Nicholas Rose & Associates
Counselling, psychotherapy and coaching for children, adults, couples and families.


Read more blogs by Nicholas Rose

Read the next in the series – Mind Matters – Looking out for young people

Read the previous one – Mind Matters – To hibernate or not to hibernate – that is the question right now…

See all Nicholas’s Mind Matters blogs here

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