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It’s National Grief Awareness Week this week from 2nd to 8th December, coming at what has been one of the most difficult years for many people. Losing a loved one is awful, and this year many people have had to grieve alone due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In a survey of 70,000 people, 2% said that they had self-harmed or attempted suicide in the first week of lockdown, and so many people are losing loved ones not just to the virus, but to the damaging effects of being alone in a lockdown.
Natalie Rossiter is a counsellor, mindfulness teacher, and nature connection guide. She explained: “Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, learning to accept ourselves and life as we find it and be more compassionate.
“I provide a safe, non-judgemental space for people to express how they feel, learn new coping skills and become more self aware. I offer workshops, group sessions and a 6 week course. The nature connection element is a specific kind of mindfulness; using our relationship with the natural world for healing and connection.”
Bereavement, grief and loss can affect people in different ways. There’s no right or wrong way to feel.
— GMHSC Partnership (@GM_HSC) November 30, 2020
Self-care is especially important in lockdown, as many people can experience feelings of loneliness and negative thoughts when alone for a substantial period of time, with no physical contact with family and friends.
Ms Rossiter added: “Lockdown has had a huge impact on mental health, though everyone has their own unique experiences. We are social animals neurobiologically wired to be in connection with each other – isolation can be really dangerous for us.
“I’ve noticed that people are really struggling with motivation and low mood; being in the same environment for long periods is not conducive to good mental health. Whilst we all understand the reasons why we’re in this situation, it doesn’t make loneliness and lack of freedom any easier.”
From looking at the statistics it is clear that self-care is especially important at this time, and even though we are set to come out of lockdown this week, restrictions are still in place, and Salford will still see a range of tough restrictions following the announcement that Manchester is set to go into Tier 3.
The way you can practice self-care varies from person to person, and ultimately it comes down to doing what makes you happy.
Ms Rossiter explained: “Self care isn’t just candles and bubble baths, it can be anything that helps us get our needs met and improves our mood. It can be physical – making sure we get a little exercise, wash our hair, get properly dressed etc. It can also be emotional, such as talking about how we feel and doing things that make us feel happy or calm.
“It will probably be the case that we have to adapt our forms of self care to this new situation as maybe some of the things you usually do are not available. This is tough and it’s important to acknowledge that. Ultimately self care is a practice of compassion; acknowledging your needs and tending to them as best you can with what you have.
“I’d like to let people know that it’s OK to find this hard. That you must reach out for support when you need it and that the best thing you can do for your wellbeing is be kind – to yourself and to others.”
- Speak to your GP
- Contact MIND
- Use the hub of hope website to find organisations near you
- See a private counsellor