Boosting low mood in a Pandemic

As we move into 2021 and towards a more hopeful life offered by the freedom of a vaccine, many of us are trying to adapt to the lack of certainty of when this freedom will land at our door. We have been struggling with understandable worries about our health, the people we love, the work we may have when life begins to return to ‘normal’ in a pandemic. What will normal look like for you? Being proactive about our stress levels can be difficult at a time when so much of our ‘normal’ has been turned on its head. Survival mode means dealing with the immediate needs of food & shelter, paying the bills and keeping ourselves and our loved ones alive.

At times of high collective stress, the most primitive part of the brain is activated, the amygdala, which orients us to signs of danger in the environment. This helps us to deal with threat, but it is also exhausting when it is over-stimulated. This is the reason we feel exhausted by 6pm and good for nothing but the sofa although activity levels may have been much reduced over the past three months.

Our sense of control is undermined as our lives are circumscribed by events beyond our control. Try the suggestions below, daily, to build your coping skills as into summer.

Practice autogenic training: this is the term given to a system of relaxation where you control physical tension by concentration on six different areas of focus such as, heaviness in your arms and legs, warmth, breathing, heartbeat.

Practice abdominal breathing; inhale and exhale deep into the abdomen, preferably through the nostrils regularly throughout the day. Download free relaxation files on Practice at least 3-4 times per week.

Grounding: Practice keeping your feet on the ground. If we constantly move on the balls of our feet, we become ‘ungrounded’. Remove your shoes when you have an opportunity and notice your connection to the earth.

Get outdoors; Even if mood is low and you lack energy, it is critical to get some natural light, your Vitamin D and fresh air on a regular basis.

Find an affirmation/coping statement: Repetition of a phrase that means something to you, will influence your subconscious mind for example ‘I am calm and in control’. ‘This too will pass’. ‘These are tough times. My best is good enough’. It takes about 30 days to create a new habit, so repetition is crucial.

Find a ritual: make a deliberate effort to create a psychological winding down space that helps you to switch off at end of the day. If insomnia is a problem for you it is important to create a sleep environment that supports, you to unwind. Talk to your GP who may prescribe short-term medication and check out for more information.

Aine Egan, MIACP is an accredited counselor available for online or phone counseling. Limited face to face from appointments from February, subject to public health guidelines.


Remote Counselling Sessions available

Following the introduction of Level 5 public health restrictions in Ireland, all counseling sessions are being offered remotely. Whether you prefer to talk face to face or shoulder to shoulder, at a time of COVID19 the pressures in many homes has been accelerated. Remember the greatest gift you can give yourself is the permission to seek support. The greatest gift you can give another is to share your story.

If you are struggling with anxiety, low mood, and find it difficult to see change ahead, it may help to talk to an independent talk therapist. Counselling sessions are available via video or phone. Feel free to get in touch if you have any queries.

Counselling for Anxiety


Living through Tough Times

Living through A Pandemic

Our experience of living through a pandemic has meant dealing with a series of losses that few of us could have predicted in January. Collective stress has been extreme over the past six months and it is difficult not to be impacted by this tension in the ether. As human beings, we do vary in our attitude to risk, attitudes to authority, and the degree to which we seek safety in our lives. However, it is normal to resent fundamental changes to our lifestyle because a) it is not of our choosing b) there is the reality that no one in authority can tell us when all this will end. Some of these losses include;

Loss of Social Contact

The normal ways of connecting with others, chatting, meeting on the street, and organizing our social lives and celebrating life milestones have been severely damaged. We are tactile creatures and we need physical touch. Evidence shows that those who give and receive regular hugs tend to have higher levels of well-being. Zoom is no substitute for this contact.

Loss of Freedom

The element of spontaneity and choice in our freedom of movement has been curtailed. This is difficult for many. Humans seek novelty and variety in their lives and removing this is harsh. If your home feels more like a prison than a safe haven, it is going to be a very tough time.

Loss of Security

The need to feel safe and to forward plan is an innate need for most of us. Making plans is extremely difficult at the moment. Health security is spotlighted for the foreseeable. Anyone who wants to protect their health and worries about the vulnerable people they know will struggle. Losing a job and concerns for future income sources feeds financial insecurity. Work changes that are not of our making can lead to feelings of powerlessness and anxiety.

Loss of Loved Ones

The death of someone we love at a time of COVID, whether directly as a result of the virus or other reasons, is extremely difficult. We find comfort and meaning in ritual and being close to those who are ill and dying. This has been sabotaged in a pandemic. Community support matters at times of painful loss.

Loss of Meaning

We are meaning-seeking creatures. We seek to make sense of our lives by seeing the meaning and purpose in our experiences and relationships. When change is rapid and seemingly random it can undermine this sense of meaning and be psychologically unsettling at best and at worst very frightening. In the wise words of Victor Frankel, ‘We can tolerate any How in our lives when we understand the Why’.

Loss of Clarity in our Roles

The merging of home and work, work and school has challenged many. Loss of clarity in our roles and location boundaries is tough. Am I a parent? Am I a teacher? Am I a colleague or carer? Time and role conflicts will set us up for heightened stress.

If you are feeling overwhelmed give yourself permission to seek out a trusted professional. Remember it is an act of profound courage to share your story with someone. Take a look at If you are worried about a minor, see and

See for options.

Aine Egan, MIACP is an experienced psychotherapist who blogs at


Counselling in time of COVID

Counselling support in confidence

We are not living in ‘normal’ times. None of us could have predicted the challenges we are faced with in a time of pandemic. The situation since January has required us to adapt to different work lives, home lives, much reduced social contacts and a much higher level of fear in our contacts with others. Anxiety is a normal response to such dramatic change on many different levels. Our capacity to meet others, chatting and honoring people who are ill and dying has all been sabotaged over the past 6 months. Counselling support may help you if you are feeling overwhelmed;

  • You are concerned about your irritability, lack of tolerance, and poor concentration when you need it.
  • If you have been bereaved in the past 6 months you have to deal with grieving in ways that are tough without community, family, social support. Feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and anxiety are normal at all the losses we have had to cope with since March.
  • If you are struggling to function and meet day to day responsibilities.
  • You are struggling with low mood, have lost your motivation and sense of hope. You are experiencing somatic symptoms of stress; insomnia, unexplained aches and pains, IBS, hair loss, loss of appetite.


Online Counselling

One of the people I turn to when looking for inspiration is Melodie Beattie and her meditations in the Language of Letting Go. This morning gave me a smile when I saw the theme for 21 April is one called Waiting.
‘We do not have to pressure ourselves by insisting that we do or know something before it’s time. When it is time, we will know. We will move into that time naturally and harmoniously. We will have peace and consistency. We will feel empowered in a way we may not today. Deal with the panic, the urgency, the fear; do not let them control or dictate decisions.
Waiting isn’t easy. It isn’t fun. But it is often necessary to get what we what’.
If you are feeling overwhelmed online counselling or phone counselling is available in confidence, You do not have to struggle alone


Counselling for Teenagers in Wicklow

Counselling for young people can be a very powerful learning process and useful for many teenagers who may be struggling. You may be reading this as a young person or you may be a parent worried about someone you know. You may be judging yourself harshly for feelings of being overwhelmed or confused. Life throws many curveballs at us and seeking support in a counselling relationship does not mean you are weak or lacking someone. Nor does it mean you are ‘going mad’ in some way.
Reaching out to talk to someone is an act of profound courage. Many normal people seek support at different stages of their lives and the safe, supportive, confidential environment of a counselling space can be very powerful in helping us to process these hurdles.
Young people must handle major, physical, social and emotional changes in their lives. They may also struggle with some of the key questions of identity formation: who am I? where do I fit in? How do I handle the pressures I am feeling? Even with a loving supportive family, it can be difficult to talk honestly to those we are closest to. We may protect others from our truth, our reality.
Peer support is critical in our teenage years and if we feel we have lost this or our friends do not meet our expectations it can lead to strong feelings of social isolation and loneliness. If you have experienced parental separation or divorce or bereavement during your teenage years this change can create major adjustment problems. Parental consent must be given. Counselling can help you to become your best self and let go that which no longer serves you.


Christmas Holidays

Time for Feet Up
Time off beckons! Counselling service is offline. Office closed from 20th December until January 3rd. Wishing you all a peaceful and restorative Christmas and New Year. May you get all the feet up time you need! Words of wisdom from Aesop which I love, ‘A crust of bread eaten in peace is far superior to a banquet eaten in anxiety’.
If your banquet is causing you too much anxiety and this anxiety hangs around in the New Year maybe 2019 is the year for change. Counselling for anxiety will help you build resilience, deepen self-awareness and self-compassion.
Appointments available in Arklow and Greystones, Co.Wicklow.

Anxiety news Self Care Uncategorized

Self Care Matters

Self Care matters. Practicing Self-Care is an essential not a luxuryAnxiety is a normal response to some life events like doing exams or a job interview. Learning some positive coping skills and practicing self-care in positive ways on a daily and weekly basis will keep anxiety in a manageable way. It is easy when we are busy to lose track of self-care but this is not a luxury to squeeze in when we have nothing else to do. It is a physical and psychological necessity. We can’t give to others unless we learn to give to ourselves. In the words of Lucille Ball, ‘Taking good care of yourself means the people in your life receive the best of you, not what’s left of you’.

☐  Notice when your thinking is negative/distorted thoughts. These thoughts create our world. They directly affect our feelings and our actions and self-confidence.

☐  Keep a confidence diary; make a note of the things that you do well. Surround yourself with people who see the best in you. Let go the negative. Practice self-compassion; acknowledge when you have done your best.

☐  Time spent in nature is proven to be great for our moods. Make a date regularly to get outdoors; focus on your senses; what you see, smell, hear, touch when in the natural world.

☐  Nurture your body with healthy, fresh foods from all the food groups. This will give you the energy you need to get through the day. There’s no such thing as a ‘bad’ food, only bad quantities!

☐  Practice mindful breathing morning & evening. Place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your heart. Inhale deep and exhale slowly through your nose. Repeat 10 times with your eyes closed. This reduces the ‘fight-or-flight response.’

☐  Make a date with your bath. Have a soak that focuses on relaxation with essential oils or a nice bathfoam. Turn off your phone. Cover your limbs with a nice moisturizer. By slowing down and moving with awareness, you can make it a meditative practice, not a chore.

☐  If you find your racing mind is preventing you from sleeping, try writing a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and stuff that is bothering you. This can help you to clear your mind and sleep better.

Have a gratitude practice; reflect on 3 things at the end of every day that you are grateful for. It may be as simple as a chat with a neighbor.

☐  If you have trouble sleeping, try a few drops of a relaxing essential oil on your pillow or rub a few drops of lavender oil and vetivert onto the soles of your feet. These are two oils that can be applied to the body directly in small amounts. Take advice if pregnant.

Notice when you are taking on too much; recognize your limitations, try to delegate and practice the power of a positive no.