HOW many of us have awoken asking ourselves: Is this a dream?

Of course, it is reality. The sun has been shining outside but we can’t come and go as we please.

For families and those living alone, hours at home can take their toll,

Writing for the Echo, therapists have issued some tips on how to stay sane during the coronavirus current lockdown.

The outbreak is possibly one of the most anxiety-triggering situations any of us have ever found ourselves in.

Aside from the immediate fears about our own health and the physical health of those we love, there are potential money worries, boredom and social isolation to deal with too.

Jane Dolby is one of a collective of counsellors in Weston Road, Southend.

Sorting out a daily routine and trying to keep in touch with friends and relatives as much as possible are top of their list for keeping it together while confined to home.

She said: “For many of us, our routines will be out of the window and if we are not careful, we could end up sleeping in and spending the day in our pyjamas watching TV which might seem fun at first but for the long haul, is not conducive to mental or physical well-being.

“And if you have children at home who might be missing their friends and not getting out and about as much as possible, a routine can help them feel safe and maintain some feeling of continuity, structure and boundaries.

“Create some sort of daily routine for yourself too. Get up at the same time every morning. Nourish your body as well as you can. Delay gratification so your Netflix box-set is saved as a little reward at the end of the day after you’ve completed your tasks.”

She added: “Stay connected to your friends and family.

“This is essential anyway and especially so if you are self-isolating alone.

“If you have technology to telephone or FaceTime people, checking in with people you love and care about is more important now than ever.

“We may need to maintain social distance, but that does not mean that we cannot still be sociable.”

Other tips include getting plenty of exercise within the guidelines on staying safe, not listening to too much pandemic news and even keeping a diary.

Mrs Dolby said: “Our little minds can be overloaded if we are carrying a lot of worries and fears around. Writing down our feelings can help us download our anxieties and is a very cathartic process. If you can, use old-fashioned pen and paper to write rather than do it directly onto the screen. There is something about the process of handwriting that is, for many people, deeply cathartic.”

Many counsellors offer online help.

Mrs Dolby said: “Many of our clients have now shifted their face to face appointments to virtual sessions via Skype, Zoom or similar.

Mrs Dolby and her team can be contacted at

Other advice can be found at