I’ve previously posted about my experience of long covid, since getting ill with the virus back in March 2020. I still have long covid, and have been taking part in a long covid peer support programme pioneered by Brain Health Breakthrough. The programme is now expanding and I’m very pleased to have been asked to co-facilitate this new peer-led support group for people in Hyndburn with long covid, organised by Brain Health Breakthrough, with funding from Hyndburn Community Champions. The programme is free of charge. The first session is this Tuesday 8th June at 1pm on Zoom. To join the programme or find out more email email@example.com
There are a number of online support groups for long covid, but this one I have found to be particularly helpful. It’s very much about developing life skills and finding a way forward in a positive direction, as well as an opportunity to share our struggles and support each other. I’ve written in some more detail below about how the programme has helped me through long covid. As well as sharing and discussion, the programme includes a guided meditation each session, a recording of which can also be accessed anytime.
The long covid peer support programme with Brain Health Breakthrough has helped me to feel calmer and sleep better. The meditations are something positive I can do when I feel unwell or worried, which feels empowering. There is a balance of acknowledging that our bodies have been dealing with something very challenging which will take time to heal, alongside reminding us we can shift our focus from panic and frustration onto gratitude for our bodies working so hard to fight covid and recover, and onto the positive progress we have already made.
Thanking my body for all its hard work feels transformative. It reminds me that I have the power to recover. It’s a form of self-love and self-care that feels more than relaxing. It feels nurturing. Covid was a terrifying experience and it can still be scary having long covid symptoms and wondering if and when I’ll be well again. The meditations and the support Karen offers in the group feel like being held in a safe space.
As well as the mutual support, having access to the recorded meditations is reassuring as I always have something to turn to when I’m struggling with symptoms. The meditations help me tune into my body’s needs, and enable to me to be more aware of how much I need to pace myself. This has helped to reduce my relapses and become more aware of warning signs in my body that remind me I need to slow down, improve my self-care, or seek further medical advice before symptoms get more severe.
The deep relaxation I feel during the meditations is sometimes more refreshing than sleep, and has been especially important to me at times when symptoms have been scary and made me feel tense. I have more energy and breathe more easily when I feel properly relaxed. I have taken part in this programme alongside seeking advice and treatment from my doctor, and the combination has really helped me to gradually improve my symptoms, to feel positive but also patient about my ability to recover.
Online peer support has really helped me to cope with long covid, but I especially value this programme as it helps to make me feel more positive. Listening to others talking about their symptoms can be helpful as it reminds us we are not alone, and it’s important to have a space where we can share our struggles and fears, but sometimes it can also lead to feeling more frightened and despairing if it’s not followed by a more positive focus. This programme is different because as well as peer support, the meditations and the focus on listening to our bodies in order to improve self-care is very positive and this positive state of mind helps me to feel stronger and more well. I have gained an approach to self-care that is a tool for life.
Click HERE TO WATCH a video on Brain Health Breakthrough’s Facebook page of people with long covid (including myself) talking about how the programme has helped.
Click on this link to find out more about Brain Health Breakthrough’s Long Covid Peer Support Programme