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  • Barbara Shead

Do I have the courage to get out there?



I don't think anyone would argue that the past year has been difficult for most of us.

So fast forward three lockdowns in the UK, many tragic deaths and much illness later. With the easing of travel, work, and leisure restrictions, we are now allowed to meet six others outdoors, visit a hairdresser (it couldn't come sooner), take advantage of outdoor hospitality, and even stay at self-contained accommodation with your household.


In the last few weeks, I have met up outside with several groups of friends, thank goodness for some lovely weather, and how good did that feel to chat with friends, to laugh, to joke, to re-foster bonds, sip a glass of wine or mug of coffee, giving a feeling of the return of some normality.


One lovely group of old friends (I refer to the duration of friendship rather than age) met outside a local park café on a particularly bitterly cold day drinking hot beverages and eating takeaway food. We must have looked comical in some ways, sitting there in our winter coats and hats, some wrapped in blankets, chatting for two hours, enjoying each other's company, not virtual this time.


I am aware through general conversation and working with clients that not everyone has been able to summon the courage to venture out and mix. Many are at least very cautious; after all, the world can be a dangerous place, particularly at this time, maybe they may have a point.


A human need to socialise


As human beings, most of us have a 'need' to socialise, to share experiences and thoughts; socialising is essential for our mental wellbeing; we may often do this by sharing a meal for instance, 'breaking bread', it enables us to connect. Research from the University of Oxford suggested social eating increases social bonding and a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction in their lives. 'Breaking Bread: The Functions of Social Eating', can be read in the journal Adaptive Human Behaviour and Physiology.


Over the last year, and particularly during lockdowns, this social bonding has become different, even difficult for some, often impacting their mental health. Some have thrown themselves into the challenge of hosting virtual quizzes, three-course meals and wine and nibbles evenings. Others have not been so lucky, and countless people have experienced anxiety, maybe depression, whether admitted or not.


Fast forward to March 2021, and many are finding going out a challenge, like the bird in a gilded cage, to step out the open door to some freedom, albeit a little precarious.

A form of post-lockdown anxiety or Fear of Going Out (FOGO) has become apparent for numerous people. They may now find themselves hesitant to send their children to school, go to the shops, mix with friends or strangers alike, use public transport, or go to outdoor events, even amongst those who previously led a busy social life. For some, these previous everyday activities may prompt symptoms such as increased heart rate, difficulty breathing or anxiety attacks.


Some, out of necessity, are being thrown back into their previous busy lifestyle, taking the kids to school, using public transport, going into the office or workplace (albeit less frequently). For many people, the result has been high levels of stress and anxiety around the risk of catching Covid and the consequences. If this is you, don't worry, you are not alone! A recent survey by Ipsos Mori revealed up to 60% of the UK are uncomfortable around returning to sport and music events.


You might ask what can you do to help alleviate these stresses


Firstly, I would suggest that you may wish to practice some self-care, take a look at your food and drink choices, try to eat three nutritious meals a day; it's a biological fact that getting into the habit of eating high sugar/high fat foods prompts the release of stress hormones. Try scheduling in some exercise, taking a daily walk, getting some fresh air, writing a diary or journal, taking some relaxation time, perhaps reading a book or taking a long relaxing mineral salt bath, maybe practising mindfulness, the secret is in the balance.


Professional help


If all this sounds too daunting and your anxiety levels stop you from getting back to everyday life, consider getting some professional help, it's easier than you may think. You have tried some form of therapy before, which has not helped; maybe therapy is too scary to contemplate? My answer to that would be not all therapies are the same, or have the same results you may be pleased to hear.


You might also be wondering why I seemingly found it easier to step out. Am I one of those people who have no fear? Am I reckless? I would say neither of these, but I believe we shouldn't let our fears prevent us from enjoying life?


In the past, I suffered anxiety, borne from a childhood which in many ways was far from ideal, and life experiences that followed. For me, therapy was harder to access in my early years, and later I didn't feel it was not an option for me, well, not until I trained as a solution-focused therapist & became a Registered Accredited Level 3 BWRT® Practitioner (Brainworking Recursive Therapy). As a therapist, we are encouraged to access requisite therapy for ourselves and like many other therapists I had the opportunity to rid myself of those unwanted anxieties and stresses.


Clients often say to me on their first point of contact that they have tried various types of therapy to no avail. I find with BWRT® that this is not a problem, as long as they want to get better and are willing to try; my clients are often surprised at how effectively this therapy can work for them. BWRT® is fast working as well as effective, which cuts down the number of sessions needed. It is mainly content-free, meaning you do not have to talk about your worst fears; your practitioner only needs to know of the existence of those fears.


BWRT® created by Terence Watts in 2011, is being used by thousands of mind therapists globally, including Clinical Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Medical Practitioners, Counsellors, and hypnotherapists, with much success. BWRT helps overcome uncomfortable and unwanted responses like anxiety, stress or trauma, assisting clients to replace the troublesome responses with how they want to feel. If you want to know more, please contact me for a free initial no-obligation phone consultation on 07791804207/01702 410685.


I work with clients in some lovely therapy rooms based in Southend on Sea, and BWRT also lends itself easily to working online with Zoom, Skype and similar applications.


Barbara Shead


Helping You, Help Yourself

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