Sunday May 17, 2020
#MentalHealthAwarenessWeek (18-24th May) starts tomorrow and it couldn't be happening at a better time. 8 weeks into lockdown, and in terms of our resilience and our ability to cope emotionally, it's about the long game.
For 7 weeks, we knew exactly what to do. We might not have liked it, but it was simple and clear, it was black and white. Some people enjoyed the new normal, the simplicity of life - others really struggled.
Then there were changes to lockdown (in England) happily opening doors for some while destabilising others. Black and white became grey, and with greater freedom there was potentially greater risk too, and a need for greater personal responsibliity.
That change has been really difficult for some people. We are normally used to functioning in a continually moving and changing, noisy world, but for the last 7 weeks, we've been based in one place, seeing almost no one and it's been eerily quiet.
We have now had to adapt again, and making choices and decisions has felt more of a challenge because we haven't done much of either over the last 7 weeks. When we get out of the way of doing something, returning to it can feel so much more daunting.
Of course, this easing of restrictions may feel very difficult becuase of the risk we feel we are being exposed to, whether for ourselves or the people we love. And that significantly ncreases our anxiety. Some of us are choosing to continue in lockdown as before as that feels safest, while others are benefitting fromt having a little more freedom.
It's not wrong to have been happy at home, just as it's not wrong to have missed normal life and only just about surviving being stuck at home. For those for whom home is not a safe place or who are away from loved ones when they need them the most, this is a terrible time.
Returning to #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek, there is no better time for its theme of #KindnessMatters. Covid-19 has, at times, pushed many of us to our limits, it continues to push us to our limits, and will continue to do so as we try to stay afloat in the uncertain weeks to come.
In all of this, it is so important that we are kind to ourselves and kind to others. We all experience things different, and even as individuals, how we feel one day may be very different to the way we feel another day. That's ok, our feelings Just Are. But in changing and unsettling times, even the smallest acts of kindness, to ourselves or others, are vital and may transform your own day or someone else's.
So what better time for Mental Health Awareness Week than now, when looking after our mental health is as crucial to our survival as looking after our physical health. #KindnessMatters