Mental wellbeing and resilience in a time of change

COVID-19 has forced us into a situation of undeniable uncertainty.

Many courses of action which would normally have brought peace of mind do not seem to fit current circumstances. They feel inadequate and so we face the discomfort of uncertainty.

With stressors, we become less able to cope. Our health is impacted in numerous ways, such as reduced sleep, increased anxiety and risk of panic attacks, and potentially struggling with relating to others.

Read on for some resources to help you with these problems and more.

Improving your sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is all about setting up healthy rituals. Those of you who are parents will know the importance of the night-time routine to help babies sleep.

Well, it’s the same for us adults.

Important steps include:

  • Establishing a healthy night-time ritual;
  • Establishing a healthy daytime ritual to help with sleep;
  • Sleep induction techniques.

Read the full article on how to sleep to find out more.

How to stop a panic attack

Panic attacks are an amplification of our fight-flight threat response. We recognise environmental threats, dangers or stressors and our brain responds by activating the sympathetic nervous system, stimulating the release of the fight-flight chemicals adrenaline and cortisol.

  • Symptoms of this adrenaline rush include:
  • Raised blood pressure, heart rate and respiratory rate;
  • Dilated pupils;
  • Breathlessness;
  • Sweatiness;
  • Trembling muscles.

If we needed to run away from a sabre-toothed tiger, these physiological changes would be useful; otherwise, they merely serve to make us feel uncomfortable and even unwell.

Read the full article on stopping panic attacks to find out more.

Compassion versus empathy

When talking to patients, clinicians can sometimes feel overwhelmed by emotion. This may manifest as feeling low, sad, or even as if you are going to cry. It can be an odd experience. It happens because we have, in effect, absorbed the other person’s emotion. This absorption is what is often referred to as “empathy.”

Patients like empathic doctors, but is it truly useful to them? Does it encourage them to give up responsibility for their health decisions to us? Does it, in fact, disempower them and encourage a paternalistic style of consulting?

What if rather than indulging in empathy we look instead to compassion?

Find out more about compassion versus empathy in a healthcare setting.

Embracing uncertainty

Much human energy is taken up in the pursuit of feeling safe. Modern human beings have long been conditioned to take measures to avert disaster and insure against tragedy.

When we rage against the machine, we use much of our energy. It is like pushing really hard against a brick wall which will not move. It is exhausting!

The pandemic has been a unique opportunity to address how we survive such conditions.

What if we saw it not as a threat, but as an invitation?

About the writers

GP Dr Karen Forshaw and Physiotherapist/Hypnotherapist/Psychotherapist Chrissie Mowbray have a combined clinical experience of 45 years and are thriving and surviving in clinical practice despite current pressures.

They formed Resilient Practice to raise awareness of the importance of personal resilience in modern life.

Their book ‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ is coming out with John Murray Press on 24 June 2021.