Daytime TV and Covid

Recently I tested positive for Covid 19 and because you feel lethargic and can’t be bothered doing anything you are stuck with daytime TV.

Phil & Holly “This Morning”

My wife likes the programmes “This Morning” a show that takes up half the morning and has various presenters during the week, also this show has a cooking slot which for some reason or another seems to pick stuff they everyday house can’t afford to cook with and make something out of that.

The show is a light entertainment show with a variety of guests throughout the week

The Loose Women

The other programme is called “Loose women”. Whilst this programme talks on entertainment issues of the time, the panel (being women) also talk about female problems. Not the type of things a guy wants to hear especially near UK lunch time.

What is the Omicron variant? 

Photo by Laura James on Pexels.com

The Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been called a variant of concern by WHO based on the evidence that it has several mutations that may have an impact on how it behaves. There is still substantial uncertainty regarding Omicron and a lot of research underway to evaluate its transmissibility, severity and reinfection risk.

How did the Omicron variant develop? 

When a virus is circulating widely and causing numerous infections, the likelihood of the virus mutating increases. The more opportunities a virus has to spread, the more opportunities it has to undergo changes.

New variants like Omicron are a reminder that the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over. It is therefore essential that people get the vaccine when available to them and continue to follow existing advice on preventing the spread of the virus, including physical distancing, wearing masks, regular handwashing and keeping indoor areas well ventilated.

It is also crucial that vaccines and other public health measures are accessible everywhere. Vaccine inequity leaves lower income countries – many of them in Africa – at the mercy of COVID-19. Well-supplied countries must urgently deliver the doses they promised.

Where is the Omicron variant present? 

The Omicron variant has been detected in several regions of the world. WHO reports that the likelihood of the Omicron variant spreading further globally is high. 

Is the Omicron variant more severe than other COVID-19 variants? 

It is not currently known if the Omicron variant is more or less severe than other strains of COVID-19, including Delta. Studies are ongoing and this information will be updated as it becomes available. 

It is important to remember that all variants of COVID-19 can cause severe disease or death, including the Delta variant that is dominant worldwide, which is why preventing the spread of the virus and reducing your risk of exposure to the virus is so important.

What you need to know about the Delta variant

Is the Omicron variant more contagious? 

It is not yet clear whether Omicron can spread more easily from person to person compared to other variants, such as Delta. 

However, being vaccinated and taking precautions such as avoiding crowded spaces, keeping your distance from others and wearing a mask are critical in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and we know these actions have been effective against other variants.  

> See other precautions you can take.

Does the Omicron variant cause different symptoms?  

There is no information to suggest that Omicron causes different COVID-19 symptoms from other COVID-19 variants.

Are the COVID-19 vaccines effective against the Omicron variant?  

Researchers are looking into any potential impact the Omicron variant has on the effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines. Although information is still limited, WHO believes it is a reasonable assumption that the currently available vaccines offer some protection against severe disease and death.

It is also important to be vaccinated to protect against the other widely circulating variants, such as the Delta one. When it’s your turn, make sure to get vaccinated. If your vaccination involves two doses, it’s important to receive both in order to have the maximum protection.  

Read more about COVID-19 vaccines and explore what you need to know before, during and after getting vaccinated.

Is a prior COVID-19 infection effective against the Omicron variant?

According to WHO, early evidence suggests that people who have previously had COVID-19 could be reinfected more easily with Omicron, in comparison to other variants of concern. Information is still limited though and we will share updates as it becomes available.

Do current COVID-19 tests detect the Omicron variant? 

The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection of COVID-19, including Omicron. Research is ongoing to assess whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen ones. 

Are children more likely to contract the Omicron variant? 

Research is ongoing into Omicron’s transmissibility and we will update as more information becomes available. However, people who are mixing socially and those who are unvaccinated are more susceptible to contracting COVID-19.

How can I protect myself and my family against the Omicron variant?

The most important thing you can do is reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. To protect yourself and your loved ones, make sure to: 

  • Wear a mask that covers your nose and mouth. Make sure that your hands are clean when you put on and remove your mask.
  • Keep a physical distance of at least 1 metre from others. 
  • Avoid poorly ventilated or crowded spaces.
  • Open windows to improve ventilation indoors.
  • Wash your hands regularly.  
  • When it’s your turn, get vaccinated. WHO-approved COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective.  

Read mask tips for families.

How can I talk to my child about the Omicron and other COVID-19 variants?

News about COVID-19 and now the Omicron variant is flooding our daily lives and it is only natural that curious young children will have questions – lots of them. Here are some pointers to keep in mind tips for helping to explain what can be a complicated topic in simple and reassuring terms. 

  • Children have a right to know what is going on, but it should be explained to them in an age-appropriate way. 
  • Invite your child to share what they have heard and listen to their responses. It is important to be fully engaged and take any fears they have seriously. Be patient, the pandemic and misinformation has caused a lot of worry and uncertainty for everyone.
  • Make sure that you are up to date on the latest information yourself. Websites of international organizations like UNICEF and the World Health Organization are great sources of information about the pandemic.
  • If you don’t know the answer, don’t guess. Use it as an opportunity to explore the answers together. 
  • Remember that kids take their emotional cues from adults, so even if you are worried for your little one knowing that they might be uncomfortable, try not to overshare your fears with your child. 

Learn how to talk to your child about COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines.

Epilepsy update

Hi Folks today I’m here to give you an update on my seizures.

First of all let me say this is the first seizure of any kind in one week short of two months.

From my point of view given that my last seizure was on twenty eight of July when I had the petite mal seizure at 11.30am approximately, it came unexpectedly.

At first everything seemed ok after the seizure, until about 10 minutes later I got a what I call (embarrassing side effect) in the form of a bowel movement. Embarrassing in the sense that if you are in a public place and don’t know where the toilets are.

I usually have an idea what triggers my seizures, mostly it’s stress related, but this time I haven’t a clue what triggered it.

My seizures have been known to be more frequent, in fact I noticed during the first lockdown from Covid – 19 I was less stressed and if I remember right no seizures and that is still the case today.

So I reckon what was causing the increase in seizures was something I had to stop doing during Covid -19.

Mask anxiety, face coverings and mental health

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

Explains why masks can cause difficult feelings, and gives practical tips on how to cope. Includes information on exemptions for mental health reasons.

What is the law about masks?

The UK and Welsh Governments are making it compulsory for people to wear masks or face coverings in certain places, like on public transport. But the exact places and dates are slightly different in England and Wales. 

Why masks can cause difficult feelings

We all want to help stop the spread of coronavirus. And we know it isn’t easy. It means making big changes in our lives, like following social distancing guidelines, and now wearing masks.

But masks are not straightforward for everyone. Some of us may find covering our face very hard, or even impossible to cope with. And for those of us with existing mental health problems, masks may pose extra challenges.

For example:

  • Covering your mouth and nose might affect the air you breathe, which might make you feel anxious or panicky. This can then cause other symptoms as well, like feeling dizzy or sick, which you might associate with the mask.
  • You might feel trapped or claustrophobic.
  • Covering your face changes the way you look, which may cause negative feelings around your identity or body image.
  • Having certain materials touching your skin might feel very hard to cope with (sensory overload).
  • If you wear glasses, they might get steamed up so you can’t see clearly. This might add to feelings of being claustrophobic
  • Masks are a visual reminder of the virus, so seeing masks might make you feel on edge or unable to relax. It might seem like danger is everywhere.
  • Seeing people covering their faces might make you feel uneasy or scared of others. They might seem threatening, sinister, or dehumanised.
  • On the other hand, you might feel very anxious or upset around people who are not wearing masks in public. (Although many people are exempt from wearing them, and you won’t always know their reasons.)
  • If you are exempt from wearing a mask, you still might feel very anxious about being judged, shamed or stigmatised in public. Or about the possibility of being asked to pay a fine. This may feel especially hard to cope with if the reason you can’t wear a mask is also to do with your mental health.

Do I have to wear a mask?

If you feel able to wear a mask or face covering, then you must.

But there are some exceptions. The Government says you do not have to wear a mask if you have a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to. 

The exact guidance on how this applies to mental health conditions is written differently for England and Wales. And it’s being updated quite often. But in practice the meaning is similar.

In both nations, reasonable excuses to do with mental health include:

  • If you’re not able to put on, wear or remove a face covering, because of a physical or mental illness or impairment, or disability.
  • If it’s essential to eat, drink or take medication.

In England, the guidance also specifies that a reasonable excuse would be:

  • If putting on, wearing or removing a face covering will cause you severe distress.

(There are other exemptions besides these. You can find the full list of exceptions in England on the UK Government website, and the full list of exceptions in Wales on the Welsh Government website.)

What counts as ‘mental impairment’ or ‘severe distress’?

There is no clear-cut definition of ‘mental impairment’ or ‘severe distress’ in the mask regulations. These terms may cover a lot of different experiences.

For example, you might feel severely distressed or impaired if wearing a mask triggers acute symptoms of a mental health condition, like:

But even if you don’t have an existing mental health diagnosis, you might still feel overwhelmingly anxious, distressed or unwell when wearing a mask.

It can be difficult to judge if you feel unwell ‘enough’ to be excused from wearing a mask. But remember: you are the expert on your own experience.

  • If you’re not sure, look for a way to make covering your face feel more bearable. Try some of our tips for coping with masks and face coverings, and see if they help. You might be able to lessen your symptoms, so you feel less unwell.
  • If you’ve tried everything and nothing helps, you might decide you do have a reasonable excuse for not wearing a mask. That’s ok.
  • It might change. For example, you might have better or worse days, times or places. So you might feel exempt sometimes, but not all the time. That’s ok too. Use your face covering as much as you are able.

How do I prove I have a reasonable excuse?

You don’t need to. There’s no legal document or proof that you need to carry on you.

If you’re challenged about not wearing a mask:

  • You could tell the person: “I’m exempt for health reasons”, or “I have a good reason that you can’t see. Please be kind”.
  • Or you could write down your reason to show people, on a piece of paper or on your phone.
  • Various organisations have created optional exemption cards and badges that you can display. You do not need to buy or apply for one, and you do not need to carry or show one. But you may find having something like this to hand makes you feel more comfortable. It’s your choice. (You can find exemption cards to print or download on the UK Government website).

The Welsh Government is advising you to carry evidence of your condition if possible in Wales, but you do not have to.

Unfortunately, you might find that not everyone understands, or is supportive. This can be really hard to cope with. But you’re not alone. It might help to think about extra self-care ideas, to help look after yourself.

Tips for coping with masks and face coverings

You might not ever feel totally comfortable with masks. But there are lots of things you could try to help make the experience easier for you.

Anxiety, panic and breathing issues

If wearing a mask makes you feel panicky or like it’s harder to breathe:

  • Get some fresh air outside before and after you wear your mask.
  • Do something to relax you before and after you wear a mask. For example, you might do a short breathing exercise. (We have some tips on relaxation exercises).
  • Choose a face covering that hangs down your neck, rather than fitting around your jaw. This type of covering is called a ‘neck gaiter’. It might feel more breezy.
  • Keep your body as cool as possible. For example, by wearing loose-fitting clothes or sitting by an open window on the bus.
  • Add a comforting scent to your face covering. This might be a few drops of lavender oil, your own perfume or aftershave, or a smell that reminds you of someone else.
  • Reduce the time you spend having to wear your mask. For example, by planning your shopping in advance to help you keep browsing time down in shops.

Physical discomfort

If wearing a particular material creates sensory overload:

  • Experiment with different fabric types. You could try making a face covering from an old t-shirt that doesn’t bother you to touch. You can search for mask-making tutorials online. The Government also has some information on how to make your own mask.
  • Experiment with different ways to secure your mask. Some fit round the ears, some tie behind your head. You could try attaching buttons to a hat or hairband, so the mask does’t irritate your skin.
  • Choose another type of face covering that doesn’t touch your face in the same way, like a neck gaiter.

If wearing a mask steams up your glasses and makes it hard to see:

  • Wash your glasses with soapy water, and polish them with a tissue. A thin layer of soapy film may make it harder for the lenses to steam up.
  • Sit your glasses on top of the fabric by raising the top of your mask up onto your nose.
  • Line your mask with a tissue so it absorbs some of the moisture.

Body and identity issues

If covering a part of your face makes you feel uncomfortable in your identity or body image:

  • Think of your mask as a fashion accessory. Search for a mask or face covering with a design or pattern that expresses who you are. You could use a scarf or bandana. Or try to find a selection of colours that you can match in with your outfits.
  • Choose a transparent mask or see-through face covering, so it doesn’t obscure your face.

Anxiety around other people wearing masks

If seeing other people in masks make you feel uneasy or afraid:

  • Shift your focus away from someone’s face when communicating with them. Try switching the way your body is facing so that you’re side-by-side with the person you’re talking to, and both looking in the same direction.
  • Try to pay extra attention to your non-human surroundings. This might be trees, traffic, shop window displays, or the sounds and smells you notice. It may not be possible to avoid looking at people entirely. But by balancing it with other things that feel more usual, you might feel more calm.
  • Take a distraction out with you. For example, listen to music or podcasts through headphones, or call to someone you enjoy chatting to.
  • If someone you have to see often (like a friend or housemate) wears a mask that you find very scary, you could try gently letting them know how you feel. They might be able to change it or cover it up in your presence, to help you.

Being supportive to others

There are many ways we can be supportive to people who might be struggling with masks.

  • Don’t judge people who are not wearing masks. Don’t assume that someone not wearing a mask is ‘just being selfish’. Many people are exempt from wearing masks, and it might not be immediately obvious why.
  • Acknowledge people. You could say a friendly ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’ as you pass them, or wave your hand.
  • Communicate in other ways. Try using your voice, eyes, hands and body language to compensate for what you aren’t able to show through smiles or other facial expressions.
  • If you see someone regularly who is uncomfortable with masks on other people, ask them what would help. For example, you might be able to get a transparent mask to wear with them.
  • If you work in a place where masks are compulsory, make sure you fully understand the exemption rules. If someone tells you they are exempt, accept their word for it.