Written: August 2020
We wrote this article early on in the coronavirus pandemic, when vulnerable persons were advised to shield. The content within might still be helpful for your family if you were impacted by shielding, or have to shield at any point in the future as the pandemic develops.
If you are someone who was or is shielding due to COVID-19, you might be working through adjusting through the ‘new normal’ - a term floating around a lot on social media, the news, and possibly amongst your friends and family too.
We recognise the emotions that shielding brought up for a lot of families and we want you to know that you don’t have to experience them alone.
Throughout this article, we will explore some of the emotions that the pandemic might have brought about if you were or are shielding, how you can manage them, and what support there is available to you.
Understanding your feelings
You might have noticed changes in your mood; there may be some days where you feel down or sadder than others, or you may be feeling nervous, worried and stressed. These are completely normal and natural feelings, and it is okay to feel like this. However, if you are finding that these feelings are overwhelming to deal with, there are things we can do to help us cope.
Sometimes, the way we feel physically can impact the way we behave and the way we think, leading to maintained mood changes. Take a look at the diagram below which shows what this may look like, specifically for a person who is feeling low after a period of shielding:
The above diagram illustrates the impact shielding has had on a person, and demonstrates how the particular situation, which causes them a change in mood can impact the way they feel physically, the way they behave, and the way they think. This is something we will come back to later in the article.
You may also find that you are feeling more nervous than usual. This can sometimes be referred to as ‘anxiety’. Anxiety is described as feelings of uncertainty and worry. Take a look at the diagram below which also shows an example of feelings of anxiety for someone who was or is shielding:
What’s important to remember is that these feelings are totally normal, and that you are not alone in your experiences.
As individuals, when we find ourselves in situations we have not experienced before, we all react differently, as do our bodies - that’s mind, and body. What is important is that you are given the support you need, if you feel you need it - and that you know it's okay not to be okay.
Here are some tips to help you if you are shielding:
Think about the positives
It might not always be easy, but thinking about the positives, and what you are grateful for in the here and now is a good way of creating balance during uncertainty. Try to think of at least one thing a day, perhaps even with your children, write it down, and watch as the list grows longer and longer!
Take things one step at a time:
Make small, achievable goals, and don’t feel like you have to rush into anything you don’t want to - take everything as slow as you like! The more you start to do, the better you will feel, but remember, all at your own pace and in your own time - there might be some days you don’t feel up to it, and that’s okay. Use your support networks like family and friends to help you with this, and remember that we are also here for you - to refer into See, Hear, Respond, scroll to the bottom of the article.
Reframing negative thoughts
Now this one can be a bit harder than others, as it requires some reminders; but try to reframe negative thoughts: for example, if thoughts of ‘I am stuck at home’ get you down, remind yourself, ‘I am keeping myself safe by being at home’. This way, we put a positive spin on an emotion that can make us feel down. We know it might not always be easy, especially given all the pressures you might be under, so don’t be hard on yourself.
Responding to our worries
As we have mentioned throughout this article, feeling worried during the pandemic is a completely normal emotion to have. If you notice worries, one technique is to try and separate them into worries you can somewhat control and worries you cannot control, and focus your attention on the things you can somewhat control, whilst recognising that it might not always be possible and that you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if it doesn’t always work out. Below is a table which illustrates this:
Remember, there will always be more things in your control than not; and you could make your own list relevant to your life to help you think about this.
Keeping in touch
Try to stay in touch with friends, family and people that are important to you, where you can, and encourage your children to do the same too. Remember that we are all in this together, and you reaching out to someone can be equally as helpful to you as it is to them. However, if there are days where you need your space - that’s okay too: give yourself the permission to take the space - just remember to be open and honest with the people in your network so they don’t worry.
Religion & Spirituality
For a lot of people, religion is a major source of strength, and something people look to for guidance and spirituality, however during the pandemic, access to places of worship for families and communities has been quite limited or has looked different, which may have felt incredibly unsettling. We know this can’t have been easy, particularly as you may have had limited contact with your religious community during the pandemic. Lot’s of religious groups have developed digital or phone contact with their congregations so their communities continue to feel supported. Try to reach out to your religious leader or community to see what they can continue to offer you and your family, if you feel you might need it.
For further support
- If you are concerned about your child, you can discuss this with your GP
- If you feel you or your child are at imminent risk, contact 999 in emergencies, or NHS 111 in non-emergencies.
If you feel like you need support regarding any of the issues discussed in this article, you can also call 0800 157 7015 to speak to one of our friendly and supportive project workers, or self-refer into See, Hear, Respond here, where we will help you get the right support you need. We are here, ready to listen, and ready to support you. You are not alone.