Autumn 2020

26 Helping Post Lockdown Anxiety the Natural Way Traditionally, Autumn heralds the time to ‘turn over a new leaf’ and welcome the change of season. As children go back to school, something instilled from our own school days heralds newness; even if just a change of wardrobe, we yearn to start a fresh page… However this year, our optimism for the new season for some may feel somewhat jaded, as we struggle to adjust to the ‘new normal’. Our feelings of lockdown anxiety are not dissipating and for some, are perhaps even heightened. Dr Sally Moorcroft, Clinical Director of ‘Orchard Barn’, an integrative medicine and wellbeing centre, based in the village of Stallingborough in North Lincolnshire, tackles issues of anxiety and depression with her patients in clinic every day. She explains, “I have certainly noted the prevalence of post lock down anxiety in an increasing number of clients. They are presenting more than ever with classical feelings of anxiety with symptoms such as racing heart, sweaty palms, difficulty in sleeping and concentrating, forgetfulness, and shortness of breath. Many are worried about the future, whether it be a direct fear of coming into contact with the virus, or implications about job security, financial implications, loneliness, or may be even reluctance or the inability to socialise as they once did. Some may even be grief-stricken, as they have sadly lost loved ones during the pandemic.” As an integrative health practitioner and with over fifteen years clinical experience as a doctor, Dr Sally firmly believes in taking a holistic view to managing our health. Integrative medicine covers a whole host of tools including nutrition, positive lifestyle choices, bodywork, stress management, mindfulness, counselling, holistic therapies, herbal medicine and homeopathy in favour of anti-depressants or other medicines, which may have unwanted side effects. Here she shares some of her healthy lifestyle tips to help us to navigate the ‘new normal’ along with some natural remedies which she has found to be of benefit to her patients who consult her for a wide range of issues, including women’s health, gut health and auto immune conditions. Being Normal in ‘The New Normal’ – The first aspect to recognise, is that some level of anxiety, given the events of this year is completely understandable. The human psyche thrives on regular routine and having the ability, within reason, to plan ahead. So, no wonder that sustained feelings of anxiety are present as we seek to adjust to a ‘new normal’. It is when these feelings become overwhelming, or exaggerated, that we may choose to seek professional help. It’s Good to Talk – Whether it’s in the guise of a professional counsellor, or a chat over a cuppa with a friend, it is helpful to voice your fears and worries with another person. They may also share having similar feelings, which will immediately help you both to put things into perspective. Connection is key to our wellbeing, even if you would view yourself as introverted. This may mean adapting to the current situation with social media, or the old fashioned telephone, or even dropping a friend a hand-written note. Manage Expectations – It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself now, after over half a year managing the Covid situation, and all of the change/uncertainty that many of us have had to face, with how we were before. In terms of concentration levels, stamina, confidence and organisation skills, it is wholly expected that we are not quite where we were. So, go easy on yourself and lower the bar, there is no race. Back to Basics – For most of us, much-needed nourishment in the form of sleep and from our diets can certainly be areas to address. Although we have no control over the greater environment, we can help ourselves enormously by instilling a regular sleeping pattern, and turning off devices at least one hour before bedtime, avoiding caffeine after 6pm, and ensuring that our bedroom space is de-cluttered. Healthy eating will improve mood and sleep patterns, and a commitment to regular exercise at a pace which suits our current level of fitness will help to address stress chemicals and induce natural sleep (again, rather than causing extra stress on our bodies by vowing to run that marathon, be gentle with yourself, recognise where you are at!)