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How can we allow hope to blossom when we’re coping with lockdown and are in a painful and isolated place?

As I sit and write this I am aware of two realities, the outward progress in the vaccination process and the at home struggle of so many. We have the realisation of something positive on the horizon but it is not reaching us yet. So many families are under huge strain trying to balance work, young children, home schooling, as well as the day to day tasks of cooking, cleaning, washing and coping with lockdown. A common theme that I am seeing, is within all of this a deep sense of isolation.

An area that I am consistently aware of are first time mothers. Becoming a mother for the first time brings us a new identity and add to this COVID-19, it can become complex. There may be first-time mothers reading this who had their baby during lockdown. How was it for you to give birth at this time? Were you able to have someone support you? How was the birth? If it was traumatic did you get the support you needed at the time or has the experience made it hard to bond with your baby?

What do first time mothers need particularly in the 4th trimester? Ultimately they need support.  Not only from family but from other mothers who are experiencing what it is like to have a new born, as well as those crucially important support groups such as breastfeeding clinics. For so many mothers they have not had family support due to the restrictions that COVID-19 has brought. All the support groups were of course unable to run and while we could meet 1:1 outside, in winter with shorter days and the need to wrap up warm, this may have made it an impossible task.

In times like these it is important to find rewards for ourselves, can we notice what feels special to us. With life so limited as we’re coping with lockdown, it is about seeking out the small joys in life that in the past we might not have noticed. Can we allow ourselves to put on some perfume even if we are not leaving the house? To wear something that makes us feel good, cosy, or soft against our skin. Perhaps there is a food or recipe that makes us feel really good at the moment.

Look back at what you have achieved, you have survived and it is time to celebrate your success. We need to hold onto the fact that life is ever changing and we have the potential to move forward in a new way.

Illustration by Muriel Clarke

How do you ‘Self-Care’ as a parent?

As the primary carer to babies and young children how do you practice ‘self-care’ and what does this expression evoke in you? Self-care is something that has become part our language and since the outbreak of COVID-19 lockdown everyone is talking about it says therapist, Emma Parr

As the primary carers of young children know, finding what self-care means in such an ever-changing environment can be hard. Our approaches to self-care before children may have been in ways we now don’t have time for. Whether that was heading to the gym or cinema, catching up with friends or sitting down to read a book.  Now with such a full-time job of caring for another, our self-care gets forgotten. Add to this becoming pregnant, the idea may feel impossible.

In this place of self-sacrifice, it is important to find time for self-care to recharge some of our batteries. To be able to achieve this we need to accept that someone else will most likely need to step in, while we step out. Some of our self-care may have to change, we may not be able to do what we have done before. Ultimately it is about being open to ideas and ways of looking after ourselves that we may not have tried.

Part of our self-care is to ensure we are giving ourselves what need. When we become aware of the ‘niggle’ that says something isn’t right, we owe it to ourselves to seek understanding at a deeper level. A therapist during lockdown provides a platform to enable this and I am available, online, by phone and face to face (subject to COVID-19 regulations).

The pressures of family life

When it comes to the pressures of family life, it’s impossible not to look at life through the lens of COVID and lockdown at this time. It colours everything for everyone in so many ways. For those who are feeling vulnerable – pregnant mothers, those families with young babies and those with underlying conditions – it is an anxious time.

emma parr therapist
Illustration by Muriel Clarke

Initially we had clear boundaries to follow, knowing what we could and could not do in no uncertain terms. The lack of choice and narrowing of our worlds was for many very uncomfortable. For those with babies and young children, a huge challenge, particularly if both parents were working – the pressures on family life during lockdown was undeniable. Being so stuck in one place externally can, however, challenge our internal world to expand and explore our reality, often on an unconscious level.

As we start to emerge from full lockdown there is now an opportunity to look at how we survived it: 

  • As a mother with a baby, or young children what was it like to have to stay at home?
  • How do you cope in stressful environments?
  • Do you turn to food for comfort, or perhaps criticise everything you do and end up feeling like the worst mother in the world?
  • Do you slip back into patterns of behaviour that although familiar and comfortable you know do not serve you?
  • How would it feel to be resilient in these changing times and be able to choose healthy coping mechanisms?

A disease like COVID-19 brings ‘dis-ease’. Can we challenge ourselves to seek consciously the lessons this has brought to us? Psychosynthesis therapy brings the opportunity to explore our own awareness at times of change.

About Emma Parr

Emma Parr is a psychotherapist qualified at the Psychosynthesis Trust (PT). The course was accredited by the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) and validated by the University of East London. For Emma, being with a client as they explore their internal world is both an honour and a privilege. Find out more about her work at www.emmaparr.net

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