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A Paisley barber has backed a campaign designed to help people look after their mental health as he prepares to welcome back clients from next week.

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Alexander Mills, owner of Handsome Jacks, acknowledged many will feel anxious about returning to the barber shop after months away, as he encouraged people to reach out if they need support.

The barber has shared details of what the experience will feel like to help clients prepare, in the hope they’ll use the time in the chair to clear their heads, as he gets to work on styling them.

With research showing at least seven in ten people in Scotland are feeling anxious or concerned about other people not following guidelines, as restrictions ease1, the Clear Your Head campaign gives people practical tips on how to look after their mental health.

This includes recognising how you’re feeling, talking to others, regular physical activity, good sleep, diet and sensible alcohol and caffeine consumption, limiting the time you allow yourself to worry, as well as taking slow deep breaths if you’re feeling anxious.

Alexander Mills, barber and owner of Handsome Jacks, said:

“Whilst there’s understandable excitement about us opening, in reality the next steps out of lockdown might make some feel anxious.

“The experience at the barbers might feel different, but we’ve let our clients know what to expect and the steps we’re taking to make things safe to help reassure them.  We might not be able to chat as much, but I hope our clients know we’re here for them, and focused on making their experience as stress free as possible.

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“A barbershop is somewhere people can escape, and get a 30 minute break from the stresses of daily life.  Our hope is people will leave feeling a little bit lighter, with a nice haircut.

“It’s not easy at the moment, and everyone is feeling it. Take up the advice on offer if you’re worried, because it’s important to look after yourself and there are practical things you can do that will really help.”

The Scottish Government’s Principal Medical Officer explained feelings of anxiety and concern are normal and shared by everyone to differing degrees.

Consultant Psychiatrist Dr John Mitchell said:

“We’ve adjusted our lives and now, as restrictions continue to ease, feelings of anxiety, worry or fear are understandable and natural.   Your family, friends and everyone you know are likely to be feeling the same way.

“It’s important that we face our fears and do not avoid them.  Mentally preparing yourself to do things that you are worried about can help, rehearsing in your mind the steps you can take to reduce infection risk. This could include paying contactlessly, good hand hygiene, and also using face coverings in enclosed spaces.

“We’ve never had to deal with a situation like this before, so be kind to yourself and to others, and reach out if you need to talk to someone.  Support is there.”

The Clear Your Head website – clearyourhead.scot – provides a range of tips to help people look after their mental health, signposting helplines for those who need to talk to someone, including NHS24, Breathing Space, SAMH and the Samaritans.