Q: I'm feeling really anxious about the Covid alert level change to level 3, and I don't want to go out. I'm really worried the Government's got this wrong - how can I manage
A: It's okay to feel anxious, be freaked out about this. Lots of people are.
I've been anxious and worried about the level changes too - and even though it can seem like everyone has an opinion, I don't know what the right decision is myself. It's also not my job to know, none of us have all the data the Government experts do.
So I choose to trust. I trust science, the team that got us this far and I trust the process.
One thing I remember really clearly from last year's first big lockdown, it that coming out was hard and scary. It can be easy to funnel that fear and tension into anger, or outward-directed attacks, like, "They've got it wrong" and then go looking for views that support that anxiety.
But trusting can be hard when you're anxious, and there are lots of voices - on social media and elsewhere - saying "they" can't be trusted.
So, as they say in 12-step programmes: "Keep your own side of the street clean."
Use your anxiety to feel appropriate caution. Follow the public health advice, keep your bubble small, mask up, stay home.
Use your rational mind to reassure yourself that level 3 is actually still restrictive and cautious.
It is not "threedom". It's still lockdown.
We eliminated Covid last year at level 3 - and as now, we also moved to level 3 with community cases. Yes Delta's different but we now also have growing vaccine coverage.
So get vaccinated, stay home and hug your kids. Well all be okay if we stick together.
(And, by all means, go get a burger, or three ...)
Q: I've realised, these past weeks in level 4, that I'm not actually looking forward to going back to normal. I'm over lockdown but I feel pretty dissatisfied with my life in general and being stuck at home really brings that into sharp focus. It also feels very daunting to do anything about it. In fact, it's quite tempting to make big changes all at once, though I know that won't help in the long run. Any suggestions on where to start with these feelings?
A: One of the problems with lockdown is it can mimic the behaviour of low moods - sadness, depression - in that we stay at home, are less active, often less social and we generally slow down and become more mentally and physically lethargic.
There is also more time to think.
Our mood influences our behaviour but this also works in reverse. So by acting the behaviour of "depression", we can end up feeling that way. Then our mood can influence our thoughts.
So that's not to say you're wrong in your reflections on your life, but it is important to be careful. It may very well be that yout mood is colouring - or amplifying - the feelings you have about your life in general.
You're quite right to think that changing everything at once probably isn't a great idea right now - if only because it sounds like a decision driven by emotions.
So what to do instead? Firstly get moving and gently push yourself to re-engage. Stay alert as to whether the feelings shift as you move back into your life and out of "lockdown".
And if they don't, still try and stay present to the feelings - not feeling the genuine unhappiness that is there won't help - it will only keep you stuck.
While it can be hard to stay with the feelings, perhaps this is the gift that lockdown has given you - a clear-sighted view of your life. Take it slowly, get perspective and help from others and make a plan of attack.
Because sometimes we need to stop to see clearly what's there. And when we do, our feelings light the way.