A friend of mine and her partner took her young granddaughter to a weekend workshop activity in Leeds last Saturday. Afterwards, they were looking forward to getting home to relax after a busy day, dropping her off at her house en route. They arrived back at their car, and were dismayed to find the boot had been broken into. What was stolen? A pack of toilet rolls!

Clearly it’s going to cost a lot more to fix the broken lock that the value of the toilet rolls.   Everyone in the family was upset and emotionally exhausted, and now my friend has to make an insurance claim.  All the thieves had gained were a few toilet rolls, which are constantly being restocked in the shops anyway.  And if there’s any CCTV footage with which to identify them, they’ll be prosecuted. .

These are stressful times. People do what they can to enable themselves to find a measure of control (which currently seems to be panic-buying).  But instead of making us feel better, this can result in simply adding to our stress, which is a bad idea. And we don’t behave rationally when we are stressed or panicking, so the effect on others can be even more damaging.

We are in the midst of a healthcare crisis and there’s no point saying otherwise. But I confess that I was a bit staggered to find that toilet paper was our first priority when approaching the apocalypse. I never thought that as Armageddon was sighted on the horizon, people would start competing for loo rolls.  Wiping one’s bottom has become – dare I say – the Number 1 concern.

Meanwhile we are rushing about from shop to shop and getting even more stressed. Seriously, everyone, this is the worst thing we can do. Because we know that constant stress is going to weaken our immune systems. And in the weeks to come we are going to need them a hell of a lot more than toilet paper. That stress ‘fight or flight’ reaction is doing us no good and we need to ditch it.

So- if you want to do something to make yourself feel in control, take some actions to help yourself and others. Drop a note to an older neighbour with your contact details in case they need errands running. Plan some activities for your children if they are going to be off school.  Spend as much time outside in your garden or the countryside away from indoor spaces when viruses can circulate.  Do the things you enjoy, and that will keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy.

Most importantly of all, do some relaxation to boost your immune system and support your own wellbeing and that of your family. There is good evidence that mindfulness meditation improves the immune system and it’s easy to do.  There are lots of apps for meditation and other forms of relaxation and some of these can be done as a family.

One of the most important skills I teach my clients is how to relax. If you’re relaxed, you can’t be stressed at the same time. Stress increases inflammation in the body – Covid-19 creates and thrives on inflammation, and we don’t want to give it any help in that regard. So you will increase your chances of staying healthy and feeling well by relaxing and doing positive things.

Many counsellors and therapists are substituting online or telephone sessions to face to face ones, and I have told my clients I am happy to organise sessions via online means or to telephone them (so that they don’t have to use up their mobile minutes whilst in isolation, or have to pay for landline use).

Do email me if you need help – hypnotherapy can be delivered remotely.

We are going to get through this by caring for one another and staying as strong as we can.

So relax…breathe…and bugger the bog rolls!