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Self-care in the age of anxiety, psychologists offer advice as Covid-19 restrictions lift

19 July 2021

Psychologists have encouraged people to find their own version of ‘self-care’ amid post-lockdown anxiety as lockdown restrictions in England lift today.

In his keynote speech at the BPS' Division of Counselling Psychology’s annual conference this weekend, Professor Simon du Plock highlighted the importance of self-care in the ‘age of anxiety’. It comes as a study released recently from London Southbank University found one-in-five people surveyed were suffering from Covid-19 anxiety syndrome.

“We have so many tangible reasons to be anxious, particularly at the moment, but it is helpful to remember that we have always lived in a changing world and the human condition is characterised by uncertainty,” said Professor Du Plock.  “As counselling psychologists we understand anxiety as an appropriate response to our precarious human condition. If we did not experience some degree of anxiety, we would not be alive.”

“The past eighteen months have been an especially anxious time for us all as we have learned to live with the challenges and the losses brought by Covid-19. Coming out of the restrictions, perhaps paradoxically, brings us yet more anxiety as we emerge from a set of rules into a period where everything looks so uncertain. We are all anxious now about how to live in whatever the ‘new normal’ world turns out to be.

“But human beings are also remarkably adaptable and resourceful, as we have seen throughout the pandemic. Many of us have found new ways to stay sane and connected to the world around us, to self-regulate and manage our anxiety rather than be overwhelmed by it. Often these things seem quite mundane. We may do these things without really being aware just how important a role they play in keeping us energised. They may include activities as various as reading, writing, singing, painting, making music, walking in nature, and gardening (even if only tending a window box).

“These self-care strategies are hardly ever new to us, rather we have re-discovered what connects us to our sense of self and to others – and to what gives us meaning in our lives.  Everyone will find their own ways. What they have in common is that they are things we do without worrying about achieving mastery, not to get money or fame, but for enjoyment and to experience becoming, to make our soul grow.”

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