Mental health and kindness during lockdown

Since the government restrictions came in March, we have cooked, baked, created art, played outdoors, had more walks than ever before, watched TV, read books and navigated the everyday challenges of working from home with a pre-school toddler.

Like many others, we have learnt to live a bit slower in a sense, away from the daily commute, days full of back-to-back meetings and the nursery pick up. The daily grind has taken a different form, one that blends work with home life in a sometimes-confusing manner. Suddenly we were thrust into lockdown life, ready or not, and in all honesty I’m not always sure if the time is going slowly or quickly.

The benefits of this turbulent time are second to none, the cuddles during the day, time together before our daughter starts primary school and a newfound appreciation for our loved ones and nature. With this comes many challenges too, which I am sure every household is experiencing right now. It isn't an easy time and we are all hoping for a return to normality soon - a safe one.

You have probably heard that this week is Mental Health Awareness Week. This year the theme is kindness, it seems very appropriate as a theme at this time. Over the last few months I know I have seen an overwhelming amount of kindness in our community, from neighbours, friends and strangers. There is comfort in this deepened solidarity across the country and it is touching to see this kind of compassion during difficult times.

One thing I have learnt about mental health over the years is how invisible it really can be. You may envy someone who looks like they have got the perfect lifestyle and a confident personality, only later to discover that they suffer from anxiety. Or maybe you have a fun-loving friend who is always laughing and making others smile, but they themselves have depression. It is true that you never know what someone is going through.

Right now is a testing time for all of us and I wanted to share a few things I have been doing to keep myself focused and productive:

(it is worth mentioning that these are my own coping techniques and these might not be necessarily right for you, but I wanted to share my personal experience in this post)

  • First of all, practicing yoga and meditation keeps me calm and grounded. Yoga has always been my go-to and I’m sure the breathing techniques learnt through yoga helped me to get through childbirth. I practice when I can find the time and when I feel I need it. Either in a class, with my daughter and then sometimes on my own. People always tell me that I'm a calm person and I'm usually surprised by that, as I'm not sure that I always feel that way on the inside, but it's nice to know that is the impression I give off to others. I think this type of exercise definitely helps me to try and encourage that mindset.
  • My day is full of screen time, my day job and online business both require it and I'm increasingly conscious of it during lockdown. When there is a spare moment I'm trying to focus on other activities, such as drawing and gardening to break away from this. I also spend a lot of time cooking or tidying the house so I’m finding a new love for podcasts. They are helping to keep my mind entertained without actually having to watch a device.
  • I'm still learning to be kinder to the environment, reducing my footprint and finding new eco-friendly alternatives. Whilst I can’t profess to a totally green lifestyle I keep making small switches in the hope of making a bigger difference. It is an ongoing search to find ways to reduce plastic consumption, source cruelty / palm-oil free products and purchase organic items that won't flood my home with chemicals. I'm glad to be making these changes to the way I live and I enjoy this process.
  • As I have already touched upon, my heart is full from hearing stories of others generosity and kindness, this is something I want to learn from. To be less impatient or quick to make judgement, and to check in on others to make sure they are okay. These are not necessarily qualities I would associate with myself, but I think we can all hold a mirror up and ask if there is something we can do better.

It is so important that we are all kind to ourselves too, we can often be our own harshest critic, but this is a difficult time for us all and our usual routine is disrupted so we need to try our best not to ‘sweat the small stuff’. Your house might not be immaculate and not everyone needs to come out of lockdown with several new skills or hobbies. Looking after our wellbeing should be the number one priority. Engage in activities that will boost your mood and try to get to bed earlier if you can.

In our BOOST box this May we included LSW Mind Cards - a set of cards with daily prompts to encourage wellbeing and a more fulfilling life as developed by a professional therapist. So if you have ordered from us recently try using some of the mindfulness ideas in here to get started.

#KindnessMatters #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek