Dealing with Grief


What is grief?
When you are grieving, you may experience many different symptoms as you are trying to cope with your loss. We are all individuals so grief may manifest itself in various ways. There is no right or wrong way to feel and you may experience your loss differently to others.


Some people have a sense of numbness or shock and may appear unreactive. This does not mean that they are not struggling to cope. Others may be very demonstrative, crying or weeping inconsolably as they express and discharge their emotions, and they need to do so. There are many common experiences including an overwhelming sadness which most people recognise as grief. Your brain is having to adjust to a new way of living without your loved one and this can be exhausting, especially when you experience a host of emotions which may also include anger or guilt. These are all normal, natural reactions and common to most people experiencing bereavement.


It is generally acknowledged that there are different stages to mourning your loss. They are not necessarily linear and you may find yourself at any stage at any time. These stages involve:
· Accepting the reality of the loss
· Working through the pain
· Adjusting to a life without the deceased
· Emotionally relocating the deceased so you can move forward


Your brain will work through these stages at your own pace and will eventually move you forward to beginning to live life fully once more. This takes time so be gentle with yourself, especially when your loss is recent. After time, if you are continuing to struggle with your bereavement and feel that you are not able to move on, then there are many sources of help. You are not alone and professionals have specialist training that can help you.


Changes during the Covid-19 pandemic
The current pandemic is creating changes to the way people are nursed in hospitals and how funerals and ceremonies are conducted. These necessary changes around social distancing to keep safe, are creating distress for many people. We are all conditioned by our own particular social cultures surrounding death and saying goodbye to our loved ones. You have a set of expectations about what will happen and your involvement in what happens, and of course this includes being able to show your love and give comfort. The pandemic rules mean that things need to be done differently, and you may not be able to look after and honour your loved one in the ways you hoped for and expected. This naturally creates uncertainty, which may be expressed as anger towards those upholding the rules or guilt that you are not able to do what your loved one may have wanted if times were normal. Again these are natural reactions to the distress you are experiencing.


How do I cope with these changes?
Perhaps a fitting way to honour your loved one in these difficult circumstances is to use your creativity to find an alternative way of saying goodbye that works for you and your family. The most fitting tribute to the deceased is to be able to think of them with warmth and a good feeling, rather than allowing yourself to be drawn into a fight with the authorities. If the funeral or ceremony you would have wanted is not possible, then it may be that a special memorial can be organised after the social distancing rules have been relaxed. Engage your brain in coming up with a range of different ideas. Giving your brain something constructive to plan for in the near future will help you to cope with difficult emotions. Planning ahead will allow family and friends to get together and share happy memories of your loved one and honour them as you would wish. Your new alternative idea might even be a better, more personal and thoughtful tribute to your loved one.


Resources & Organisations
https://www.cruse.org.uk/ – Offers Counselling
https://www.sands.org.uk/ – Stillbirths & Neonatal Support Charity, offering practical advice and support.
https://www.mind.org.uk/ – Offers Counselling
http://www.bereavement-trust.org.uk/ – Bereavement Helpline
http://www.bcsy.org.uk/ – York based support group for Children
https://www.tcf.org.uk/ – Compassionate Friends support group for parents.
https://papyrus-uk.org/- Support Group for Teenagers
https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/ – Offers support to families who have experienced Sudden Infant Death. (SIDs)
https://community.sueryder.org/ -Offer practical and emotional advice about bereavement
https://www.nhs.uk/
https://www.samaritans.org/
https://www.dyingmatters.org/ – Useful resources
https://www.thecalmzone.net/ – Support group for Men under 45yrs

I am a Chartered Psychologist helping and supporting people through difficult times in their lives. You can find out more about my work at http://www.mindmakeover.co.uk

And Breathe ….


Day 5. Today’s top tips. 

Take care of yourself. You need to be healthy mentally and physically if you’re looking after others. Self care is paramount. Have a quiet hour every day. Read, meditate, do yoga, have a relaxing bath or pamper. Being calm boosts your immune system. 
A word about worry. Helpful worry keeps you safe – taking precautions like self distancing. Unhelpful worry can lead to overwhelm and panic. Repetitive thoughts that focus on worst case scenarios result in behaviour like panic buying, overthinking and searching for and consuming catastrophic information. 
Get outside in the fresh air and exercise every day. Currently in the UK you can go for a walk, run or cycle once a day. Make sure you do it. Eat healthily and drink water. 
Finally….Breathe! Slow, deep breathing with a longer outbreath will calm you down mentally and physically. 
I hope these tips have been helpful. Please share them with anyone who might benefit  😊
#experttoptips #psychologicalwellbeing #mindmakeover #helpforanxiety 

Today’s top tips


Day 4. Here are today’s top tips. 
Stay connected to others. Physical social distancing is essential right now, but you can still maintain relationships online or by phone. Arrange an online cuppa with a friend. 
Do something creative. Your brain needs stimulation to stay healthy and being cooped up at home for 3 weeks doesn’t help. You have an opportunity to learn a new skill, do an online course, make something or try anything novel. 
You will remember this time in years to come. Make it an adventure and do it well. 
More top tips from the experts tomorrow! Please share the tips with anyone struggling 😊
#experttoptips #psychologicalwellbeing #mindmakeover #helpforanxiety 

More Top Tips for controlling anxiety


Day 3. Here are today’s tips. 
Have a sense of purpose. Make plans for the future so you can focus on something beyond now. 
Listen to music that lifts your mood. It can transport you to a better place and help you engage with another world. 
Set boundaries. Make sure you don’t overwork if you’re working from home – stick to day job hours. Everyone also needs a bit of personal space and time alone. Agree with other members of the family how you will get a bit of time for yourself every day. 
More top tips from the experts tomorrow! Please share the tips with anyone struggling 😊
#experttoptips #psychologicalwellbeing #mindmakeover #helpforanxiety 

Top tips for managing anxiety


Day 2. I’ve been gathering information from some psychologist colleagues so that I can offer some top tips from the experts for controlling anxious thoughts and feelings. 

I will post a few across the coming days. Here are today’s thoughts. Let me know if you find it helpful 😊
Build a routine for these changed circumstances. This allows you to control the controllables. Give your day some structure. 
We are all feeling a bit strange under these new conditions. You may be sad or irritable or scared. Accept your feelings without judging them. Right now, it’s natural to go up and down emotionally and there is no right or wrong. Notice your feelings then let them go. This helps you increase tolerance of the uncertainty, reduce feelings of anxiety and stop panic. 
Be mindful of your information sources. I’ve seen lots of conspiracy theories being shared on social media, which stir up unhelpful emotions. Use a trusted source and don’t check in too often. 
More top tips from the experts tomorrow! Please share the tips with anyone who may benefit 😊
#experttoptips #psychologicalwellbeing #mindmakeover #helpforanxiety 

UK Lockdown Day 1


Day 1 in lockdown! How’s your day been? It’s all a bit strange isn’t it? Perhaps you’ve had mixed emotions and I guess I’ve had them too today. It’s perfectly natural under these extraordinary circumstances. I decided that I would post the positives of the day, because it helps us to focus on them 😊

Day 1.

Despite the huge impact on my business, I secured a new client today and we are going to work online to resolve anxiety problems.

I did my Boris approved daily exercise and walked 5 miles while social distancing.

I enjoyed the peace and quiet – no traffic and lots of birdsong.

I created a new piece of art this afternoon.

I learned a new skill – working out how to send an online test to a client, get it completed and automatically sent back to me.

It was a sunny day and I tidied up the Spring flowering plants in the back garden.

OK – over to you. What positives have you noticed today?

#lockdownday1 #thinkpositive #mindmakeover #York #anxiety

Protection with Projection!


Human behaviour can be interesting and complex. Most people are familiar with the term ‘defence mechanism’ as it has become part of our common language. Did you realise that the origins are from psychoanalysis, a personality theory developed by Sigmund Freud as a way of understanding the conflicts within ourselves?

Take the idea of Projection for example.

Projection is a psychological defence mechanism. It is employed subconsciously as a way to cope with troubling feelings like anxiety or guilt. A person may attribute characteristics they find unacceptable in themselves to another person, as the alternative is to admit to or deal with those feelings within themselves. For example, you might behave selfishly and that creates guilt and anxiety. In order to feel better, you deny that you are the selfish one and blame someone else.

You can see how this can create problems, especially in our relationships with others.

Defence mechanisms are a normal part of human functioning and often don’t create too many long term problems. However, some people find that they are damaging relationships, at work or in their personal lives, because they are not coping with underlying anxiety in a more positive way.

Talking with a skilled psychological practitioner can help you become more aware of patterns of behaviour that are not serving you well. Perhaps you recognise that there are defence mechanisms at play in your own behaviour but don’t know how to change your response. Working with a professional will help you identify and shift unhelpful responses to ones that are more beneficial, and relieve the associated stress and anxiety.