Some of my favourite things

This week’s theme at Harmless is Positive escapism and coping mechanisms, so I thought I’d talk about the things that I find help me. The things that provide a welcome distraction and a chance to get out of your head and ‘thinking’ mode and get lost in an experience – to be in the moment.

It’s important to try and recognise when your thoughts start racing, with worries and anxieties popping up, to try and find that ‘space’ or ‘distance’ from them, to give your mind a little reprieve, a little respite.

There’s a few ways I do this, without realising I did until I thought about it!  A connection to nature has always been food for my soul.  The sound of the wind, the blue skies, the trees, shrubs and flowers, the birds, the butterflies, and how it feels to be outside. Yesterday I had a walk at Highfields and stopped to watch a Swan and her 5 grey fluffy babies paddling away behind her. One decided to hop onto Mum’s back and then all 5 squeezed on with their little heads poking up riding along, and it was just so lovely to see, it filled me with joy, and for that moment nothing else mattered.

Reading is definitely a great way to relax, a compelling book will absorb your focus and get lost in your imagination. My other half is really into audio books and has Charles Dickens Great Expectations on the go with Matt Lucas narrating, which is great as he does all the different voices!

One thing I’ve loved during lockdown is Netflix, I’ve finally done Season 8 of Game of Thrones and been engrossed in so many great dramas. Everyone has their favourite ‘feel good’ film they connect with on a personal level.

There’s exercise, which can come in many forms, be it competitive sports to swimming, kicking a football around to yoga, it’s finding the one that you enjoy most.

Hobbies and interests, fishing, DIY, painting, making or restoring things, cooking or baking.

Embrace your spiritual side and expand your mind, take some time to reflect on your life, what is important to you and what can you let go, use mindfulness or maybe start journaling. Not easy at the moment but holidays and new experiences broaden the mind. Just getting a change of

scene or doing something you’ve never done before will give your brain a rest from ruminating.

I hope you can identify with some of these and that you find your own ways of finding some positive escapism for yourself. Take care.

Stacey

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

Grief, lockdown and coping mechanisms – a few words from one of our clients.

Since I lost my husband to suicide last October, after 52 years of marriage, it was really hard to imagine life without him after being such a big part of my life. Regular support from the Tomorrow Project has been a big help and I thank them from the bottom of my heart.

Life since lockdown had been difficult at first but I have discovered ways of coping through doing different projects.  I started gardening, painting the garden fence and shed, pressure washing the drive and paths and writing long overdue letters to distant friends and family, which helped me get back on track.  I have also spent time improving the Arbour in my garden.  I have added lights and other touches and is now a peaceful place I can remember and reflect on the life me and my husband had together. Being in lockdown is difficult after a loss, especially as I have a heart condition and other health issues which makes me high risk to Coronavirus, which has meant I was not able to see my family face-to-face for weeks. However, keeping focus on the positive things such as speaking to them on the phone or by video call has helped.  We have also started doing a family Zoom quiz which is fun and gets all the family together.  I have also just started re-painting the garden gnomes in my garden and painting a metal butterfly at the side of my house.  Hopefully, these positives activities will see me through the rest of lockdown.

Positive escapism and coping mechanisms 

For a while now it seems like everything is about COVID-19. It’s still the main topic in the news and the thing everyone is talking about. So it’s very easy to be so focused on COVID-19 and worrying for our loved ones physical health and our own physical health, that we may not be focusing on our mental health or our loved ones mental health.

 

The truth is that this virus is having a large impact on our mental health, we no longer get to socialise like we did before, were left feeling isolated and trapped and it’s a horrible feeling. A feeling that some people have known from before this.

 

Think about the people who felt like that before this virus, and imagine how much worse they must be feeling now. Please check up on your loved ones who struggle with their mental health during this pandemic, but also after. Remember how you felt in this moment and how you coped with feelings of isolation and anxiety and show understanding and compassion.

 

We need that human connection and so a lot of people are coping by FaceTiming family members or friends or even stopping by their houses from a distance on their daily exercise or helping out those who are vulnerable, and I hope we can carry that on after all this. If you look at this pandemic from afar you can see it has brought out a kindness in people, stronger communities and more family bonding. I hope that those are things we can carry on after all this, and that we will have more appreciation for one another. These ways of coping may be temporary for some people but for others they’ll still need those coping mechanisms after the pandemic has passed.

 

Sofia,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

Creativity and parenting

Collective creativity has been flourishing locally.

The outside fencing of the primary school has been transformed into a lovely sea of colour.

We have been making pom poms and rainbows at home to add to the collection (when on our daily exercise walk!).  

Symbolising hope and connectedness which is much needed at the moment. Beautiful in its simplicity.

Rachel,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

You deserve kindness

On the theme of kindness we sometimes forget that the most important person to be kind to is ourselves. I love this poem by Ms Moem because it suggests that the kinder we are to ourselves, the more empathy we gain for others and in turn, the more kindness we have to share.

Helen,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

You Deserve Kindness | Poem

You deserve kindness. I mean it. It’s true.
Yes, you deserve kindness, from me, and from you.
Be kind to yourself when you see your reflection.
There’s only one you, and no such thing as perfection.

Beware the inner critic who lives in your mind
and break free from its prison that holds you confined.
It might tell you you’re ugly, or stupid, or worse
but frankly, its outlook is simply perverse.

So be kind to yourself, and to others around;
Lift yourself up instead of putting yourself down.
You’re magnificent as you are, if you don’t know it yet
and you do deserve kindness. Please don’t ever forget.

You Deserve Kindness is a short poem by Ms Moem. ©

A ditty – Helen’s attempt at creativity

Life goes by in the wink of an eye

“I don’t have time for this”

“I simply don’t have time for that”

“If only I could find the time”

“We are just so busy”

“I have so much on”

“ I would love to write, but I don’t have time”

“ I used to read but  now I don’t have time”

“ I wish I could see you but I don’t have time”

“ It would be great to stay longer, but I don’t have time”

“Drawing is my passion, now I don’t find the time”

“ I love to sew, but there is no time”

“ I used to paint but now I don’t have time”

I’m going to start……but  now, I’ve run out of time!!!!

 

Helen

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

Do we really know what it means to be kind?

For this weeks theme creativity for good mental health I’m adding a bit of a twist. I’m being creative by giving you a bit of imagery to open up your mind.

Imagine there’s a person stood in the centre of a room, but you can’t see their face because that person is surrounded by a lot of people, people who don’t know them, people who are full of judgement,who are hurling abuse at them and there’s no escape from the masses, the person is blocked in and that room is getting smaller and smaller and more crowded for them. Now you push your way to the front of the crowd and you look down to realise that person is your person, your favourite person. Maybe that’s your mum, or your sibling or your best friend but it’s someone you love so deeply. Everyone is someone’s person and everyone makes mistakes, but they don’t deserve to be treated in a manner that pushes them to breaking point.

In a World where you can be anything, be kind.

I saw this post being shared a lot. But do we really know what it means to be kind? Being kind is being aware of how your actions and words can affect someone, it’s a warm smile and a helping hand, it’s accepting that we all make mistakes and that no one is perfect, it’s keeping your opinion to yourself if it’s going to hurt someone. I really believe being kind is good for your heart, soul and mind. So don’t add more pain and hate into the World. Truly be kind.

 

Sofia,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

My perinatal mental health – a blog by Lisa Williamson

In line with this week’s theme of perinatal mental health, I thought I would share a few words. I am a mum to five children (now fully grown adults) and I experienced a ‘wobble’ with my mental health, following the birth of my fourth child.

I must admit, I had become quite complacent about the whole ‘parenting’ thing and having already had three children with no problems, I thought I was invincible…………I wasn’t!

I wasn’t prepared for the huge wave of sadness that hit me. I couldn’t understand how I had just given birth to a beautiful healthy child, who I absolutely fell in love with, yet I felt so incredibly sad and all I wanted to do was sit alone and cry. I was angry with myself and tried to ‘pull myself together’ but this underlying feeling would not go away. Eventually I dragged myself to the doctors feeling a complete failure at admitting defeat. He diagnosed post natal depression and after a series of medication and a bit of self-care (not an easy task to fit in when you’re a busy mum), I slowly got  back to being the energetic, happy mum of four little girls.

It was at this point that I learned anyone can suffer with their mental health. I had looked for excuses everywhere……..I must just be tired, it was due to family issues, it was because my husband worked shifts. I had looked everywhere for the answer, without looking at me.

Here is a picture of my children when they were younger and a more recent one of them now.

 

Lisa Williamson

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer

How Tom rediscovered the great outdoors

One thing the lockdown has really highlighted for me is how under appreciative I was of the Derbyshire countryside only a 10 minute walk from my house. The dry, warm weather we have experienced through most of March and April has encouraged me to step into the countryside and really explore its beauty and nature.  It is not as dramatic as High Peak areas of the Peak district or have the spectacular views of Kinder Scout, but it is still stunningly picturesque. If I can take a positive from the current situation, it has at least enabled me to rediscover what I forgot was right in front of me and how it benefits me.

I have realised that walking in the countryside has some almost therapeutic benefits. It really seems to stimulate the senses and set me loose from my thoughts, anxieties, and stresses. Even when it does not alleviate those worries, there is a calmness and serenity which helps me think more clearly and calmly, meaning I can often come up with ideas and solutions to my problems whilst I am walking.

A further beneficial by-product of walking in the countryside is the exercise itself, which has replaced going the gym, and the mental health benefits that has. It keeps me active and when I am active, I feel less agitated and more relaxed. I also experience that feel-good factor or sense of achievement you often get when you have achieved a goal or target.

I realise I am very fortunate to be able to walk in the countryside, and not everyone can, but I would like to think most people have a place or an activity that can give them a sense of calmness and can give them an escape from their worries and anxiety.  However, like I took the countryside on my doorstep for granted, we sometimes forget what these are or forget the benefits they have on us. When life and time seem to fly by and external pressures are everywhere, it is easy to forget activities we can do to benefit our mental well being. Now, with many of us at home most of the day and social contact unattainable, seems to be a good time to discover (or rediscover) what we can do to help ourselves as individuals.

Tom,

Suicide Bereavement Support Officer