Life

5 therapists tell us how they’re coping with change as lockdown eases

From taking time to reflect to being a little bit kinder to yourself, here’s how the experts are coping with change as lockdown restrictions lift.

Dealing with change is never easy – especially when that change happens to be adapting to life after a worldwide pandemic.

As lockdown lifts and we move into our ‘new normal’ of face masks, social distancing and slightly tentative trips to the pub, many people are finding it hard to adapt to all the changes that have been put in place to curb the spread of coronavirus.

In fact, whether or not you feel ‘ready’ to return to normal life, simply going out of the house and travelling to the office after so long spent at home is likely to feel a little strange and overwhelming.

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So what’s the best way to handle this? Here, we spoke to five therapists about how they’re dealing with lockdown lifting, and asked them for their top tips when it comes to coping with change.

Charlotte Armitage, psychologist, psychotherapist and managing director of Outsourced Psych LTD

Charlotte Armitage, psychologist, psychotherapist and managing director of Outsourced Psych LTD.
How to cope with change: Charlotte Armitage, psychologist, psychotherapist and managing director of Outsourced Psych LTD.

How are you coping with lockdown easing?

“I am approaching the situation with caution. I feel a sense of disbelief that the Covid-19 situation is over and it’ll take a little bit of time to get used to the expected behavioural changes. There have been quite a lot of positives that I’ve been able to take from the lockdown situation, and I would like to maintain some of these once lockdown lifts. As such, I’m taking things slowly and responding to the changing environment where I need to – but I’m in no rush to go back to the fast paced life I was leading before.”

How do you cope with change on a personal level?

“Throughout this situation, I have embraced the fact that so many educational courses offer online access now and have taken lots of continuing professional development (CPD) courses to support my work and knowledge as a psychotherapist. I’ve also set up a new business called Outsourced Psych which offers professional psychological health care to organisations. This is my way of coping when the world feels unstable or unpredictable – I like to keep my mind busy and plan for the future. I’ve definitely had my ups and downs though, like everyone has. It has been a rollercoaster at times but now I feel used to the pace of life and the changes that have occurred.”

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What’s your top tip for dealing with change?

“We all respond differently to change. The unstable environment that we’ve all recently experienced will have had a different impact on each and everyone of us. With this in mind, it’s important to do what feels right and comfortable for you as an individual, and be kind to yourself. I’ve heard a lot of people talking about what they ‘should’ be doing but there are no ‘shoulds’ in this situation. We can’t expect ourselves to operate and function in the same way that we did before, so just allow yourself to experience the emotions that you might feel as you adapt to the changes in life which come your way.”

Esther Emanuel, psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member

Esther Emanuel
How to cope with change: Esther Emanuel, psychotherapist and Counselling Directory member.

How are you coping with lockdown easing?

“I am still working from home via video calls. So, for me it seems as if the lockdown has not yet been eased, or at least not completely. I have also not had many clients requesting to return to face-to-face sessions yet, which gives me the feeling that the fear of the coronavirus has not abated – well, not at the moment. But I am open to seeing how things pan out over the next few weeks.”

How do you cope with change on a personal level?

“In tackling change, I find that just doing my best from moment to moment and being gentle on myself helps. Knowing and accepting that we need time to deal with the grief that accompanies change and that the amount of time varies, helps too.

“But, irrespective of these, I also tend to practice, ‘the art of letting go’ and ‘being in the moment’. This is a meditative practice as well as a way of being which helps me in accepting life as it presents itself, rather than pre-empting it or wishing it were something that it is not.”

What’s your top tip for dealing with change?

“My top tip for dealing with change would be to take some time out to reflect on the change. This will help you to gain perspective on the change and to accept it for what it truly is. The amount of time you may need may vary depending on the gravity of the change. But take as much time as you need and remember to be gentle on yourself during this process.”

Amina Ispahani, counsellor and psychotherapist, MA, MBACP

Amina Ispahani, counsellor and psychotherapist, MA, MBACP
How to cope with change: Amina Ispahani, counsellor and psychotherapist, MA, MBACP.

How are you coping with lockdown easing?

“I’m feeling a combination of anxiety and excitement. It has helped to remember that I can figure out what feels comfortable and safe for me personally whilst taking things at my own pace – bearing in mind that there is no normal response to lockdown easing. I can’t control others’ actions but I can control my own. I also remind myself that uncertainty in times of change is natural. Even though it might take time to feel at ease as we re-adapt, we are adaptable. We managed to adapt to lockdown so we’ll be able to adapt again.”

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How do you cope with change on a personal level?

“Tackling change doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’m especially kind to myself in times of change. I accept that it may feel uncomfortable and then work out what I can do to make it feel less overwhelming. I take a step back, try to break it down into bitesize chunks and just take it one step at a time.”

What’s your top tip for dealing with change?

“Figure out what you do and don’t have control over and try to let go of the things that you can’t control at this time. Try to focus on the present moment and what you can do to make the change easier for yourself. Find someone who you trust that you can talk through your worries with.”

Lucinda Gordon Lennox, psychotherapist and trauma specialist at the TRC Group

How to cope with change: Lucinda Gordon Lennox, psychotherapist and trauma specialist at the TRC Group.
How to cope with change: Lucinda Gordon Lennox, psychotherapist and trauma specialist at the TRC Group.

How are you coping with lockdown easing?

“The lockdown has been an extraordinary time for exploring and welcoming inner demons, and I am taking the lockdown easing slowly and in my own time. As we know, we still do not have all of the information about Covid-19, so I am trying to make my own decisions around caution and risk, so that I feel empowered in however I care to get back out there again rather than fearful. Because there are so many unknowns, I feel as though we are all in a process. I think acknowledging this and accepting this is useful.”

How do you cope with change on a personal level?

“I am very often initially afraid of change. However, experience has taught me that most often the other side of change is a very good experience - and usually better than the past. So I draw on this knowledge and try to remind myself this, to curb any anxieties. There is another side of me that is excited about change so I try to draw on this part of me too. One of the challenging things about the easing of lockdown, is that there are no clear answers and still many unknowns, so much of the change is still out of my control. So it’s getting to a place inside myself where I can trust that everything will work out as it is supposed to is important.”

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What’s your top tip for dealing with change?

“Find an anchor. Change can leave us feeling like we are flailing and some sort of anchor will help us to move through the change. For me it’s a mixture of spirituality and practicalities. So whilst I keep my faith in a higher being, and I practice my yoga and meditation on a daily basis, I will also make sure that as many of my options on the ground are open as possible; I will plan for many different scenarios that might play out, so that I feel prepared for whatever might happen. This might be an underlying need for control that perhaps I can work on more, but it does give me a sense of safety when external situations feel turbulent.”

Desree Shaw, sessional CBT Therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Fenchurch Street

Desree Shaw
How to cope with change: Desree Shaw, sessional CBT Therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Fenchurch Street.

How are you coping with lockdown easing?

“Lockdown was manageable. The easing of it does trigger concern. I am anticipating the flow of normal activity, however there is little to no understanding of what to expect. The virus is not over and we need to ensure we’re staying aware and acting sensibly.”

How do you cope with change on a personal level?

“I use my REBT/CBT disputation techniques. I assess the situation as a problem and evaluate the facts against any irrational fears I have. I actively practice mindfulness which helps to ground me in the present moment. I also practice yoga for a sound body and mind, and I take long walks. This provides me with the support I need to process my thoughts and interpretation of events.”

What’s your top tip for dealing with change?

“To flow like water, don’t try to change the change to suit your needs. Settle and then allow yourself to flow. Water takes the shape of whatever contains it. Know that change is inevitable – it is how we deal with it that is interchangeable. Allow for change and develop with it. Never fight it.”

Coping with return anxiety

As lockdown eases and some parts of our lives begin to return to ‘normal,’ it’s completely normal to feel apprehensive and experience some return anxiety. After all, this is something none of us have ever gone through before – and it’s important to remember that however you’re feeling, those feelings are valid.

If you’re looking for help navigating the move to a new normal, here’s three articles that might help:

For more information on anxiety, including what it is and how to cope, you can check out NHS Every Mind Matters or visit the Mind website.

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Images: Courtesy of Therapists

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