Mental wellbeing during a life in lockdown
Now, I’m going to get real with you – I am by no means a mental health expert but what I am is a young woman who has struggled with mental health and now in particular am, like all of us, going through the emotional rollercoaster that is life in lockdown. I have always been terrible at talking about my mental health, but I do realise the importance of having these open, honest and frank conversations about mental health to help remove the stigma that, although getting better, still exists. So, I am going to take the leap and talk to you about my feelings at the moment and share what I have been doing to help take care of my emotional wellbeing.
Life in lockdown, and this year so far, has been strange. It has uprooted us from our normal day to day routines, caused huge spikes in anxieties, and has meant that many of us haven’t been able to see family, friends, partners for many months. Like many others, I got made redundant at the beginning of lockdown and it sent me into a spiral of emotions. I have faced moments of pure darkness – one instance of which was after my one and only interview after applying for endless jobs went terribly, we’ve all been there – where just finding the will to pull myself out of bed has been a struggle. But through the darkness, I have also found moments of great clarity and beauty – I have discovered new skills, taught myself to look for the positives in each day, and have taken time to reconnect with people I love and things I love doing.
The theme for this year’s mental health awareness week is kindness and I don’t think it could be more appropriate. We must learn to not only be kinder to others but to be kinder to ourselves.
Again, as I said before, I am by no means a mental health expert – but this is what I do when I need to be a little kinder to myself, and maybe something will resonate to help you be kinder to yourself too...
- Listen to your body and switch off when needed… If all you can face today is to wear your cosiest PJ’s and binge watch old school rom-coms (I have re-watched all the Bridget Jones’s Diary movies, and everything featuring Meg Ryan), then that is absolutely fine! Sometimes doing very little can do A LOT.
- Keep active… Even if it’s just a five-minute walk to the supermarket, the power of movement is phenomenal. I love a good 40-minute cardio class with my fave IG trainers or getting outside in the fresh air (particularly when the weather is this good) for a nice walk or run.
- Try something new… I have been taking a few online courses in things I have always wanted to try which have done wonders for my self-confidence and have also allowed me to rediscover myself. Trying something new gives you the opportunity to evolve, explore things you maybe never thought of doing before, and get to know different sides of yourself!
- Talk it out… Friends, families, partners – stay connected to people and don’t be afraid to talk to them about your feelings. I know it’s easier said than done, I always worry about burdening people with my problems, but your loved ones want to help and care about you! If you don’t feel like you want to talk to a loved one, or have anyone you feel confident in talking to about these feelings, the Samaritans charity have a 24/7 helpline that can be reached at any time through 116 123 (in the UK) and are there to help support you with whatever it is you are going through - sometimes talking to someone completely impartial can really help.
- Have fun… Take time to inject some fun into your day however that may look. Play a game, do something you love, lose yourself in a good book, arrange a Zoom quiz with friends, put on your favourite podcast, dance around the kitchen, learn the latest Tik Tok craze. Just whatever you do, do it for you and enjoy it!
- And finally remember, it's ok not to be ok - please don't ever beat yourself up for feeling any less than fine. It's perfectly ok to have low, rubbish days but try to remember not every day will feel that way and each day is a new day, with new opportunities. One of my favourite quotes is "even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise".
Remember if you are struggling with your mental health there are many services out there to support you. The charity Mind, have put together a comprehensive list of all listening services here: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/crisis-services/helplines-listening-services/ and their website is packed with advice, support and guidance.
Look after each other, look after yourself and be kind to everyone - yourself included!