Two months into lockdown and the carpet is starting to wear thin from virtual Zumba classes and on-the-spot marching.
Sure, it’s not the same as throwing yourself around a dance studio. But for me at least, maintaining some form of daily exercise is a little oasis in the storm of this situation – and if my flooring bears the brunt, then so be it.
Because this is the new normal – for now, at least. And in this unprecedented time of social restrictions and remote working, we’ve all got to find ways of keeping calm, carving out some ‘me’ time and focusing on our mental and physical health. Whether that’s running a marathon on the balcony, baking brownies with a housemate or keeping in touch with loved ones via video chat (Zoom quiz, anyone?) it’s important to identify the things that keep us going in times of crisis.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I for one think the timing is impeccable. While a lot of people have taken lockdown in their stride, others have found it harder. Being separated from friends, family and loved ones, as well as being restricted from the activities of normal life, can have a major bearing on mental health. In such an unusual and uncertain situation, it’s no surprise that feelings of isolation and anxiety have hit an all-time high across the nation. However, despite ever-increasing awareness of mental health conditions and a collective understanding of the difficulty of the current situation, a lot of Brits feel duty-bound to maintain the ‘stiff upper lip’ stereotype that defined our nation in years gone by.
This year, the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week is kindness. Research shows that kindness and mental health are deeply connected, and this makes a lot of sense. Whether it’s sending a text to a friend in need or making a cup of tea for a family member who’s having a bad day, random acts of kindness make the world a better place. But while being kind to others is important, being kind to yourself is essential.
So, if you’re struggling to concentrate, don’t be hard on yourself. If you think you should be running 5k every day, but you can’t quite bring yourself to put your trainers on, put the kettle on instead. And if you need some extra support, the NHS has released a number of fantastic apps and online courses to help deal with the emotional impact of the current situation:
- Big White Wall – round-the clock support from therapists to help you deal with stress and anxiety
- Catch it – support to manage negative thoughts and look at problems differently
- SilverCloud – an eight-week course to help you manage stress, anxiety and depression at your own pace
- Ieso – an instant messaging app to quickly and confidentially connect you to mental health professionals
Being kind – to yourself, and to others – costs nothing. So, indulge in some self-care, download an app (or two), and remember that help is never far away – even if it is socially distanced for the time being.