What not to do during a pandemic
From the 18th to the 24th of May it’s Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK. And what a time to remind ourselves to check up on our mental health!
In the midst of a pandemic we are surrounded by rules, and expectations we sometimes have no idea where they came from or even who set them.
We know, or at least are trying to understand, government guidelines. We stayed at home. We washed our hands. We had the unbelievable gift of time bestowed upon (most of) us. But what does all that mean in reality?
And then, the “outside” expectations. Social media connecting us all, and making us all feel so incredibly useless and like we’re failing. And keeping us so busy all the time, most of us are not processing our feelings and thoughts about the state of the world.
How? Well, read on…
Early on, it started with all these online free classes that started to take place. Gym owners, PTs, dancers, gym aficionados, all left out of jobs, decided to take their gifts online, and a new form of exercise came to be: Zoom classes and Instagram lives of all sorts. From Yoga to HIIT, boxing and ballet, you name it! And we enrolled them all.
Then came the bread-making. It turns out sourdough is not that hard to bake, and there’s something lovely about eating bread you made yourself. Not to speak of the wonders of watching dough rise. Yep, we have time, don’t we? Anything but staying alone with our thoughts.
Soon after, haircuts, new gardening skills, books checked out of the to-read lists (even if we can’t remember the storyline all that well), and creative writing. All the plays, poems, stories, we felt we needed to start and perhaps didn’t really want to finish. I mean, art comes from the heart, and that little honey is a bit mangled right now.
Not to mention, we are probably feeling like we watched ALL of Netflix by now.
And still… at the end of the day, we are still left feeling overwhelmed, afraid and unbalanced. We have not processed all of this. And you know what? That is ALRIGHT!
The sooner you realise you have NOTHING to prove to anyone, not now, not when the pandemic is over, the better it is for you and your mental health.
So, don’t feel like you need to declutter your closet and be all Marie Kondo. Or learn a new language, read all the books you own plus the ones you can afford to get delivered. Or write a novel. Also, and this may come as a shock to you, you don’t need to participate in yet another Zoom quiz night!
You can take things at your pace. You can read, if you feel like it, or listen to some amazing audiobooks if you can’t concentrate on the pages, or even, ditch the book and try meditating for the first time in over 50 years of living (there are some gorgeous apps and Youtube videos to help you get started).
You can have a cup of tea by the window, getting some sun (and vitamin D! Just please, wear sunscreen. Seriously, I could do a whole other post on how much you ALWAYS need sunscreen!), listen to your favourite song paying attention to instruments you may not even know are there (I recently found a little cymbal in Bohemian Rapsody I SWEAR has never been there before) or you can simply call your mom and have a nice chat or share recipes and funny stories from growing up.
Just take time. To be with who you choose to be with. To be with you. To be.
And now that we are slowly easing out into some sort of normalcy, please remember to check in on anxiety levels. More people outside can be a trigger, and a concern and we should all, as much as possible, still be inside. I won’t stop hammering this: it’s ok to not be as productive as you think everyone else is being. It’s ok to take things at your own pace. As the famous saying goes: You do you, boo.
And just as a closer, and to remind you to be forgiving and keep your mental health in check, here’s some advice I picked up from this article:
- Asking for help isn’t weakness
- Forgive yourself
- Hard work isn’t a cure
- Processing takes time
- Shame doesn’t get the final word
- We’re ALL adjusting
We are all adjusting. We are all together. We all are.