From education to employment

Tips on how to cope with the new normal ahead of World Mental Health Day

Getting back to some sort of norm while still living with the threat of the pandemic.

On the run up to Mental Health Day, Midland Mental health Counsellor Sheila McMahon reflects on this ‘Strange time’ as we are getting back to some sort of normal while still living with the threat of the pandemic. She offers some new perspectives on how to cope.

Living in fear or living with fear?

Since Feb/March 2020 most of us have experienced living in fear. There is no doubt that the coronavirus has instilled fear in most of us. When something initially happens, it can create tremendous fear. Over time we can become aware if we are still living in fear or learn to live with fear. Take for example 9/11 and the threat of terrorism. I bet, that despite how horrendous that situation was, that there are people living in New York now who refuse to live their life in fear. They have learned to live with fear. Some people will even say that we owe it to our lost loved ones, to live our lives, as that is what they would have wanted. I know this is easier said than done, however, I truly believe over time and with emotional support either from professionals, our families, or communities, we can learn to live our lives again whether the coronavirus is around or not.

Facing the fear of dying

Death is a topic that most people don’t talk about and in some cases spend their life in denial about it. Death is a natural cycle of life and sometimes the more we avoid the topic, the more we can build inside an unconscious or sometimes conscious anxiety that can stop us from living. Some people live with an ‘impending doom’ of it. Covid-19 really highlighted how short life can be and for some it can be a wake-up call. The reality is that all we really have is now! This very moment. We can take inspiration from animals. Look at how animals just live in the moment. We can adopt the attitudes of our pets and think about stuff like ‘What’s for dinner’, ‘What’s that over there – lets investigate’ and ‘Where can I get my cuddles from?’. Today I will take inspiration from my cat and hope she doesn’t bring any ‘gifts’ to my door!

The Future

We don’t know what the future will bring. We can plan for it and plan for as many eventualities as we can, then leave it there and:

‘Take each day as it comes’

This last year and half has highlighted how resilient we can be. If someone said to you two years ago that you would find ways to get through a pandemic, would you have believed them?

Trial and Error

I encourage you to decide what you want your new norm to be while still feeling as safe as you can. We do need a level of anxiety or fear to keep us alive. We also need to learn to be in control of the anxiety, so the anxiety is not in control of you. I encourage you to use trial and error to find different support you may need while finding your new norm that feels ok for you.

Upcoming live theatre show

I will be returning to the Lichfield Garrick on Saturday 9th Oct 2021 to perform a brand new Mental Health Comedy Show. This new show is themed ‘Covid-19’ and is based around the effects of the pandemic on our mental health.

Expect one big group therapy session with laughter and learning.

Working in education

As well as private counselling Sheila,of Lichfield, runs training events and workshops across the Midlands and continues to work with teachers and schools as part of her mental health work, including in West Bromwich. She also delivers mini mental health comedy shows at key events and for a host of organisations. 

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