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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This week’s theme here at Harmless is Gardening, Nature and the Outdoors. I have tried gardening before. Let us just say it is a work in progress… But nature and the outdoors – oh I could talk for days about that.
Nature is (for me that is) the utmost definition of what non judgemental means. It is real, visible, factual, and tangible. Places of calm and quiet, with just the right type of noise and the right amount of light. Nothing clashes, everything has a place where it belongs. And you can just blend in.
Not many places are completely free of human intrusion and meddlesome, but I still try my best to find them. Back home, you would usually find me swimming in the ocean. Now, the Peaks are where I feel at home. And I miss my walks terribly right now, so I’ll end my short contribution to this week’s theme by sharing some of my favourite places out there in the big wide world.
“Music is what feelings sound like” (Georgia Cates).
Is there anything more powerful than music? If you’re like me you’ll love listening to music.
I wish I could play a musical instrument. In one of my impulsive moments I bought us a baby grand piano with the intention of playing great tunes for my kids to sing along. This never happened (well not beyond ‘Silent Night’ which I’d learnt, aged 8, on my sisters’ xylophone!).
Music is my constant companion: following me around wherever I go. From waking up, driving my car, being at work or being at home, I love to hear my favourite tunes. I guess music for me is like my comfort blanket. If I feel sad, music can cheer me up, when I pick something that I know will lift my mood. It can also give me the chance to let it all out and have an almighty sob, when I’m in a safe place to do so. Some songs can make me cry even when I don’t feel sad, simply because they are just meaningful or hold a special memory.
Music supports me in whatever I do. It helps me get ready, putting me in the right mood. It can make me want to dance and comes with me when I’m running. Music helps me relax and unwind: there’s nothing better than taking a bubble bath with some classical chill out tunes filling the bathroom. Music has helped me study and calmed my nerves. It keeps me company when I’m feeling alone and is the backbone to controlling my emotions. If I have music in my life, I can be anyone I want to be (after all, I KNOW I’m Beyonce when I’m singing in my car!). I cannot imagine how I would be in a world without music.