This post was written by Priya Vithani, NLMT Music Therapist
Today is the first anniversary of the announcement of the first lockdown. You may notice you’re feeling particularly tired or much more anxious than normal. This is ok - it's a phenomenon known as the Anniversary Effect.
The Anniversary Effect is a build-up of difficult feelings such as anxiety, fatigue, negative thoughts or irritability, linked to a specific date relating to a traumatic event. It can be very common to experience feelings like this around certain dates, but that doesn’t make it any less distressing.
How it happened
2020 started with the news that there was an outbreak of a new virus sweeping China, originating in the city of Wuhan.
In early February my mother-in-law, an infection control nurse, told me she believed the virus was much more serious than the media was letting on. I felt very dubious about this; however, in retrospect I was more likely in denial. She is a very experienced nurse, having worked through epidemics such as swine flu and Ebola. From experience, and her observations about the way her hospital was treating the news, she knew a pandemic was forthcoming.
How right she was.
On March 23rd 2020, the British government declared a national lockdown lasting indefinitely to help control the spread of COVID-19. The advice at the time was to keep washing your hands regularly, to stay home unless absolutely necessary, with exceptions only for essential journeys like grocery shopping and an hour of daily outdoor exercise.
Since then restrictions have fluctuated. We were encouraged to “Eat Out to Help Out” in the summer, followed by a spike in cases in the autumn which led to a regional tiered system, and subsequently second and third national lockdowns.
How are we feeling?
COVID-19 has affected us worldwide much longer than anyone could have predicted. People have lost loved ones, others have lost jobs, and front-line workers have faced incredibly testing challenges. Life as we all knew it has changed drastically and, as restrictions slowly begin to lift, it's not clear what world we will be returning to.
COVID-19 has been an incredibly traumatic event for so many people. There is absolutely no doubt the world is experiencing a mental health pandemic as well as a medical one.
Be kind to yourself
During times like this, it's crucial to look after your mental health to avoid burnout. Self-care is a good place to start; run a hot bath, read a book, or get outside into nature - whatever it is that makes you feel better.
Music can be a really effective way to switch off from your anxiety inducing thoughts. That could be singing at the top of your voice in the shower, or using music in other ways to boost your mood. Perhaps you’ve thought about seeking professional help to support your mental health? Music Therapy could be the answer.
NLMT specialises in Music Therapy for Mental Health. All our therapists have a psychodynamic background, and are registered with the British Association for Music Therapy and the Health and Care Professions Council.
If you're local to North London you may be able to access our face-to-face service; if you live further away we can offer you online sessions from anywhere. All you need is a stable internet connection and a device that allows you to connect to Zoom. Make a referral here.