Therapist Anne-Marie returns after a break ready to start the new year

We catch up with Anne-Marie in the new year as she returns from her break, ready to react to all the new changes COVID-19 is placing on her business

Monday 4th January

This is the first day back after the Christmas break. I have one regular client due to visit today for reflexology – I’m looking forward to doing the session. This is the rescheduled appointment from last year when there was the possible close-contact COVID concern. This didn’t in the end amount to anything, however I would always rather err on the side of caution!

Today the first people will have the Oxford University/Astra Zeneca COVID-19 vaccine as the NHS rapidly expands their vaccination programmes across the UK. There is pressure for schools to be closed for longer and the potential of moving Tier 3 areas into Tier 4. Alternatively, there may be the creation of a new Tier 5, or national lockdown in order to curb the current rapid spread of the virus. All this discussion and reports of possible new measures causes anxiety over the future of my business. I worry for other therapists during this ongoing period of uncertainty. It seems to me that the roll out of the vaccine is a really positive move. However, this is happening alongside the possibility of future restrictions and lockdowns so it generates very mixed feelings.

Tuesday 5th January

Well what a start to the year! As of last night at midnight we are now in a national lockdown! At 8pm last night, Boris Johnson announced a national lockdown and instructed people to stay at home to control the virus, protect the NHS and save lives. I had noticed that the infection rate had been rapidly increasing, possibly attributed to the new variant, along with an increase in hospital admissions. This hasn’t come as a total surprise. However, it feels so disheartening to have to cancel clients again, although I totally understand that it is necessary.

These new restrictions are expected to last until the middle of February, dependent on if the situation in hospitals improves. To be on the safe side I have cancelled all clients that have booked in, advised them that I will re-book when we have a more certain date for re-opening and keep my clients updated as much as I can throughout this difficult time. Emotionally, this is terribly difficult. I worry for the future of my business, the health of my family and friends. When is this going to end? The global pandemic has affected everybody on some level. The ongoing impact of the virus on mental health is going to be very problematic longterm.

What are the guidelines during a national lockdown? Find out more here: National lockdown: Stay at Home.

The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy emailed stating that there is £4.6 billion available in new lockdown grants to support businesses and protect jobs. I spend time reading the information to see exactly what is laid out.

Thursday 7th January

It is very cold outside today, a heavy frost and mist. Staying inside in the warm is at least cosy!

I am coming to terms with what has happened. With the news of the national lockdown and closing my business, I did not expect this start to the new year. I notice that the COVID statistics are as follows: 62,322 COVID-19 cases in the UK, with 30,451 people in hospital and 1,041 deaths: yet more increases in the figures. However, GP surgeries in England have now started offering the Oxford coronavirus vaccine, which is good news. I feel that this is the main way that we will be able to get some sort of control of the virus and get back to normality (eventually).

It feels particularly difficult right now. I’m speaking to other therapists in a similar position and reaching out to other people. It feels like the right thing to do, knowing that I am not alone in how I am feeling. This article from the BBC – 5 ways to stay positive through the winter – looks useful. I decide to go for a short walk round the block around midday and see if that helps a bit. Just need to wrap up warm as it is chilly!

FHT Update

The FHT just sent through an update to members in England, which included the following:

The supporting legislation has now been approved by parliament and based on additional guidance that the FHT has received from the government, we can now advise members that until the national lockdown is lifted, close contact services should only be provided to support clients who have a genuine health condition/medical need that requires urgent treatment and cannot be deferred. This might include, for example, clients who have an injury or health condition that is currently causing them severe pain or mobility issues, or is severely impacting their quality of life”. FHT Update for Members 7 January 2021

Although my services are beneficial to my clients and I support many clients with stress and anxiety, I do not provide services that fall into the urgent treatment category. We are encouraged to offer self-care advice and remote support to our clients at this time.

I also feel that we all need to do our part to stay home, stay safe and protect the NHS. As mentioned earlier, the number of people with COVID-19 or in hospital is escalating. By staying home, we can all do our bit by taking extra care.

Friday 8th January

From Monday all international arrivals into the UK are required to provide a negative COVID-19 test result before departure for England and Sadiq Khan declares COVID emergency in London.

Some positive news today – a study suggests that the new Pfizer vaccine protects against the new variant. I hope that this is the case long term – we all need the hope that this really difficult situation shall pass. I realise life will never be the same as pre-pandemic times, which is difficult.

So the plan for today is to spend some time later doing what I enjoy, or, what takes my mind off the current situation. I love reading, getting into a good book is a great distraction, along with calling friends or family. I will also go for a walk or run over the weekend and watch less news. Continual bombardment of negative news (which we have had for a year now!) is hard for anyone. A social media and news break is much needed! Will report back on Monday and let you know if it helped!

Monday 11th January

Watched less news, but it’s hard to get away from what is going on! I am also aware there is a “need to know” of new developments re vaccine, government legislation etc. It’s important to keep up to date where possible, but limiting exposure to constant news is definitely beneficial. I updated my website at the weekend to state that the clinic is temporarily closed. I then updated Google My Business, stating “Temporarily Closed”. This morning I emailed my client list advising the clinic is closed until further notice and offered self-care suggestions in the meantime.

Tuesday 12th January

Lots more news updates, discussions and talk about COVID-19. It’s a very difficult start to the year. Not being able to work and not knowing how long this may go on for is particularly difficult. This is very different from the last two lockdowns, with case rates rising dramatically, overwhelming the NHS. My hope is that the current lockdown and the roll out of the vaccine helps to drive the numbers down, making it more manageable. I haven’t studied the statistics in detail, but it is on the government website here.

Thursday 14th January

More than one third of the over 80’s have been vaccinated against COVID-19, which is good news.

Today I receive an enquiry about purchasing a gift voucher. I had to explain that my clinic was currently closed, with no re-open date at present. I extend the expiration date of the gift voucher from 6 months to one year, which gives plenty of time for the voucher to be used! It feels good to be getting enquiries despite being closed. The clients that enquire are also very understanding when I explain the situation.

At the moment I am taking things day by day. I can’t think ahead because the situation changes daily. None of us expected to be in a lockdown at the start of this year – I really hope that these further measures work.

Friday 15th January

Apparently there is now a Brazilian variant… as well as a South African variant. This isn’t unexpected, as a virus does mutate. This past week feels one of the most difficult to date, with increased cases, hospital admissions and deaths. Thoughts are with those that have lost loved ones throughout this pandemic. Cruse Bereavement offer information on how you can help yourself during this difficult time. Their phone line is open daily.

The UK is to close all travel corridors from Monday and all travellers into the UK must have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of arriving. Travellers must quarantine for 10 days on arrival, unless they test negative after 5 days. These new rules will be in place until at least the 15 February.

If you are finding things hard emotionally, remember you are not alone. MIND are available to offer information and support: MIND – For better mental health. Please do reach out for help if you need it. If you need urgent help right now then the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to take your call.

Finally – we may not be able to control what is going on around us, but we can take small steps to make things easier for ourselves right now. Here are a few things I would recommend to do immediately if you are struggling:

  • Switch off the news
  • Avoid social media
  • Talk to someone about how you are feeling – a friend or family member – or a support helpline
  • Try a calming breathing technique – make yourself comfortable and relax

For more tips read Everyday Health’s 53 Top Self-Care Tips for Taking Care of You During the Coronavirus Pandemic. How many of these tips do you already do? What works well for you? Please let us know how you get on!

As we follow Anne-Marie’s journey navigating her practice through COVID-19, we would love to hear your stories, too!

Can you relate to Anne-Marie’s experience? How is 2021 starting out for you? How do you manage to stay positive? Please share in the comments and please sign up to become a member of PPH to receive industry news and updates.

We would like to stress that all information given in our COVID series is not exhaustive and while we have tried to ensure that the information provided in this document is accurate, PPH cannot be held liable for any errors or omissions. The COVID situation is constantly evolving and the information is changing on a daily basis. We urge you to closely follow your government, professional association and insurance company’s latest guidelines and updates, taking precedence over any recommendations communicated by PPH.