Our mental health is under increased pressure with these extreme conditions.

This is a testing time in lockdown and mental health is under threat. Lets support each other with love and grace.

A lot of people are finding it very difficult to deal with the pandemic.  Where I am based in Spain it has been extended again longer than we thought and the restrictions are tough. I got picked up with two policeman in the middle of quiet wood when out with my son one weekend and a dog. They escorted us home and demanded we hand over all our id for checking. If I was a vulnerable person, that would have felt intimidating.  Mental health is taking a battering from all sides, across all sections of the community, across countries around the world.

The older and more vulnerable groups

The over 70´s have been told expect to stay home. Older friends of mine are feeling sick with worry about what the future holds. None of us knows when it will end or the true cost to health, families and relationships.

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I have been lucky to have my 20 year old son staying with me during lockdown and in this time following the quarantine.  He has been able to be with me, help out around the house, cook meals and be the one to go out and get food provisions.  We can continue with life without too much disruption but this is not the case for many people. 

Uncertainty and fear

As my son is here with me at home, we are connected daily and I am forever grateful. Without him, my story would be very different and much harder.  I have heard stories from people I know who are struggling with little ones, experiencing fear and a lot of anxiety about how long we are here for and what will happen to them economically and for their businesses in the coming months.

I do believe that we will all see the world vastly differently when the pandemic ends. We will think more carefully about where our food comes from, what the source is for the things we buy and ask more questions about the sustainability of our lifestyle in general. We have gained a sensitivity to ask more about how things arrive to us. 

We will question how much we need to travel. We have learnt how to get by without the need for extensive international travel.  As a population, we will pull back from unnecessary air travel for health and safely reasons and for climate reasons. Previous patterns of air travel may never return to the previous levels.  

Work changes

Many have enjoyed not having a busy commute to work in long lines of traffic in cities. We have realised that a lot of meetings we rushed to before were unnecessary and now the idea of taking flights or cars for working has been stopped for now.  I’m not sure it will go back to previous levels. Now people have experienced the benefits of working from home, they won’t want to rush back to their offices or places of work for time-wasting in lots of unnecessary face to face meetings and dealing with office politics each day.

People have not been experiencing FOMO (fear of missing out) as there has been little going on out there that we are missing out on. Where I am living, there are more people coming through but not at the levels we would normally see at this time of year. Many areas are still quiet, concerts are cancelled, clubs are staying closed all year, the bars and beaches are slowly opening. Many did not survive in these months.

If you were to predict a year ago that the whole world would quickly turn on the breaks and be forced to alter years of set routines and fast manufacturing activity, we would not have thought it was possible, and yet that is our new reality. 

We are learning what it is like to not have to be social with other people, not to be going out to eat or drink in cafes and bars, learning to cook food at home buying food from local sources.

New routines

All the new routines and habits we have been asked to adopt have helped the planet to rest, to reset and to re grow without the pressure of billions of humans endlessly consuming and travelling.  The Earth is experiencing a retreat of its own and from what we are seeing of reports from around the world, Nature is, of course, winning and doing well out of this experience. Wildlife is returning where they had disappeared previously.  Creatures who have not been seen in years are coming back again. Cities are experiencing less smog and pollution from reduction in manufacturing and human activity. LA is smog free for the first time in decades and many other cities too.

We need to pay a lot more attention to mental health at this time. For men, women, children and the elderly, it is red flag time. Many people are feeling the pressure of being made to stay home and coupled with the fear of getting ill and the uncertainty around income and job security, we have a recipe for some serious mental health problems arising.  

Our doctors and nurses are heroes

The work of the doctors, nurses and people on the front line have rightly come into the spotlight. The irony of our political leaders who recently voted against pay raises for nurses and doctors have fallen ill and were dependant on these front line medics to save their own lives.  Let’s hope and pray that we will never again underestimate the value of these incredible souls working on the front line of the medical and emergency services.

We must keep an eye on each other, look after each other and reach out to those at-risk groups.  Let’s support our local charities, food banks and initiatives to help those having a challenging time and struggling with covering the basics at this time of the pandemic. And there are many in this situation.

We will come out clearer, more appreciate and gracious after this. We will realise how lucky we are with what we do have and we will be living more consciously and more awake on this planet.  Let’s hope that we will grow with others to be more attuned to grace and gratitude towards Nature’s bounty around us and being free to walk in our own neighbourhoods. Let’s never take it for granted again.

Continue to stay well, stay safe my friends, during this time of going back into a new normal and lets not retreat back into old normal without taking some lessons and learnings from this whole experience. We have much to learn as a species to survive well and keep our mental health strong.

Tips for positive living:

  1. Take a check on how you spend your time. Work out ways to take out some things from your diary and give yourself some down time.
  2. Go walking outside regularly, get air, get exercise and talk to others in your community for at least 20 minutes every day.
  3. Learn to breathe well, deeply and enjoy some time sitting focussing on how to breathe deeper. So important when we are wearing masks for a lot of the day. We need to keep air circulating well around the body and breathing well is more important than ever these days.
  4. Be flexible and make changes, enjoy change, it can bring so much joy. Don’t fight it, allow it. Everything has to move and change in our new reality.

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