This time last week when a few neighbours gathered to mark VE Day I was offered a can of lager. After a convivial hour or so and a couple of gin and tonics, without thinking, I accepted and drank straight from the can.
It was outside, which is supposed to be safer, and the neighbour seemed in good health, but every time since then when I’ve felt hot, cold or achy I’ve thought here goes I’ve got the virus. Just because I wasn’t alert/strong enough to say ‘no’ I’m going to be dead in three weeks!
Thankfully, a week later, I’m still here, am feeling fine and the usual virus incubation period has passed. Even so I’m still feeling the occasional knot in my stomach, am finding it more difficult to properly relax and am struggling to get enough sleep.
One of the things I’d hoped that retirement would bring was a reduction in anxiety which is something I’ve struggled with most of my life. From childhood I remember the sinking feeling on a Sunday evening before a week at school which continued into my early years of work.
Eventually that feeling subsided as I started to enjoy work but it was overtaken by specific worries about running a business such as losing clients, staff issues, financial worries that are now, on the whole, a thing of the past. Other aspects of life worry me too such as certain social situations, what’s happening to the kids, relationships and some of the everyday risks of life.
I wondered as I approached retirement whether more free time would give me more time to worry and, of course, with advancing years comes a greater risk of ill-health so I was getting anxious about being anxious about health even before the pandemic!
These are unusual times, I know, and I’m far from the only one with these feelings as according to a government survey nearly half of adults in the UK have suffered from anxiety problems because of the pandemic.
In the survey the Office of National Statistics said that 47 per cent of people had reported “high levels” of anxiety. Over four in five of people surveyed – 84 per cent – said they were worried about the effect the virus is having on their life, while 53 per cent said it was affecting their well-being.
“Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, stress and an economic downturn are a perfect storm to harm people’s mental health and wellbeing,” said the University of Glasgow’s Professor Rory O’Connor, one of the authors of the paper.
I’m hoping that when this virus subsides I’ll return to how I was beginning to feel earlier in the year but even then I was still struggling to relax fully, still working through endless lists of things to do and setting myself unnecessary deadlines.
One of my goals – there I go again – is to really get to grips with my anxiety and in tomorrow’s blog I’ll review the advice that’s out there about and look at what’s working and not working for me.