“We should focus on what we can control in the moment and remember that we are safe and doing the best we can.”
Those are the words of Godmanchester therapist Hanni Weaver-St John, who is urging people to seek help if they are struggling and practice mindfulness techniques to ease anxiety.
The mother-of-four, who also practices in London’s Harley Street, said she fears that the fallout from the coronavirus crisis will be “huge” in terms of mental health.
“It is a really anxious time for a lot of people,” she said.
“The biggest change I am seeing is where there are cases of domestic abuse and violence at home and those people feel completely isolated now. It is sad and dangerous.
“The fallout from this crisis will be huge in terms of mental health as I feel the social crisis will be much more than the death toll.”
Hanni, 38, who has been a therapist for seven years, explained that practicing mindfulness and keeping present is the best way to control emotions.
Mindfulness exercises teach our mind to stay present and could include watching your breath or observing the environment around you.
She said: “Mindfulness is really important because the world keeps changing on a daily basis and its different now as to what it was like just last week, so it’s about focusing on what we can control in the moment.
“We should ask ourselves ‘am I ok right now?’ because that’s all we can control.
“We don’t know what will happen with our business, or health, or exams or when we will next see our relatives but we can go back to basics and practice mindfulness.”
She continued: “Make sure you get up and shower, make your bed and do any laundry that needs doing because having a routine will keep you grounded.
“It may help having a timetable to stick to and make sure you keep in regular contact with family and friends.
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“Volunteering can also give you a sense of community too and being part of the solution will give you a sense of achievement.”
Hanni, who is a mother-of-four, advises that children keep up with school work and stay “plugged in” to feeling part of their school community.
“Children should spend time with their family and do work together, but also make sure that they still feel part of their school group.
“All the things that we usually tell clients to do to combat loneliness and depression have gone for the time being, because we can’t say go for a coffee with friends or go to the gym.
“Instead it’s about staying away from any depressants such as alcohol, as it won’t help, but make sure you get fresh air from being in the garden and mowing the lawn to having a walk.
“Stop worrying about what you can’t control and have realistic expectations, remember the facts and that there are measures are in place to stop the virus spreading.”
Anxiety attacks could also happen more often during the crisis, but Hanni says that taking practical steps and controlling breathing are the most important ways to remain grounded.
“If anxiety attack symptoms arise then run your wrists under cold water or focus on the nearest things to you that you can see in your room.
“Stay away from scaremongering on the internet and get outside or bake some biscuits instead.
“This is only temporary and will pass.
“Remind yourself you are safe.”
Hanni is offering her services for anyone who may feel like they are struggling during the coronavirus outbreak.
You can get in touch with her on 07500 905317 for more information or to be forwarded to a student counsellor for those may not be able to afford therapy.
INFO: Or call Samaritans on: 116 123 – you don’t need to be in despair, it could just be if you’re feeling isolated.