Climbing out of self-isolation
What gave me the inspiration for this article? Well, it all started when my dad said the hardest thing about Covid would not be going into lockdown, but coming out of lockdown. That gave me a real insight into how you might be feeling. Since then, I have spoken to so many people who are feeling this way, fearful for their health.
So, how do we get back to the new normal?
The following step technique can be used with any fear. In fact, I’ve used it to help clients with the fear of drowning, fear of blood, fear of flying, anxiety when presenting to a group, social anxiety and most recently health anxiety.
How to move from fear to confidence
Picture the following steps as rungs on a ladder. These are the steps a client took to overcome their fear of getting out after lockdown.
1. Take small steps, with the easiest step first. Draw the steps you are going to take and start today.
2. It is absolutely crucial to go at your own pace and setting the rungs of the ladder at comfortable time intervals for you.
3. The first step or rung on your ladder would be to get out for daily exercise if you aren’t already. Research shows that exercise is excellent for your body and mind. You might aim to drive to different locations every other day to start getting used to visiting alternative places.
4. Put the steps you’ve already achieved on the drawing of your ladder for a confidence boost.
5. Think of what really motivates you and that activity will get you out. This particular client enjoyed exercise, which they told me was a key motivator for them. They felt they couldn’t face a day without exercise. The first and easiest step for this client was to get out exercising as their motivation levels were high. What are some of your biggest motivators? You just need one to start off with. Once you get going, taking action becomes easier.
6. The idea is to make these healthy daily activities into a conditioned response, so you just to do them easily without thinking about it. They are just part of your daily routine.
7. Give yourself immediate praise and reward at each step. You did it and didn’t it feel good!
8. Get support each step of the way from a hypnotherapist trained in hypno-desensitisation. It is a well established and researched technique. You can research online if you are curious to know more.
9. Engage a friend or family member for moral and emotional support. Talk to them in a safe space 2 metres apart outdoors or on an online platform such as Zoom. You can help each other to come out of self-isolation. Pick someone who is supportive of you, confident and can help build your hope again when you are faltering. Someone who has time to listen and is non-judgemental.
10. Remember that you will feel anxious, some times more than others. Anxiety is a normal human response which can be managed. It's a warning for you to take control, to make a change, take positive action. You can take control with the ladder technique.
11. In conjunction with the step ladder, self-hypnosis can be used to visualise each individual goal or step in line with your values. With hypnosis you can also anticipate hurdles and visualise overcoming them.
12. Start following these steps when you are ready. At the same time, don’t put off the inevitable taking action, saying, “I’ll do it when x happens ...” That thing might never happen. Don’t compare yourself to others. We each have unique personal circumstances and personal history.
13. Show your ladder to others, tell them about it, share and celebrate your successes. You are an inspiration for others.
14. Imagine how you would like to feel in six months time. Close your eyes. Focus on the colours, calming familiar sounds, and comforting smells. Step into that uplifting image of that future you. What you really want to feel. In control perhaps. Confident too. Return regularly to this visualisation as an exciting motivator for the steps you take towards empowerment. Your body and mind working in perfect balance together.
I can almost guarantee taking action won’t be as hard as you think it’s going to be.
Have fun drawing your ladder, seeing yourself achieving your steps to freedom. Writing your actions down helps to strengthen and solidify the commitment you are making to you, for you.
Research shows that engaging your motor skills by writing your actions uses one side of the brain. The other side of the brain employs your creative skills when drawing the ladder. That strengthens your commitment to you.
If you should come across any challenges, which you will, anticipate them now. Think ahead of what you will do to overcome hurdles. Write down the various options you have, the alternative positive actions you can take that move you forwards. Think about what motivates you and all the many benefits you will achieve along each step of your journey. And remember, you can return to your positive visualisation every day if you need to.
Be proud of yourself every step of the way. It’s a great feeling to take back your personal feeling of freedom. I can see that smile on your face just thinking about it.