This story comes from editor-in-chief Lotty Whittingham. It’s no secret that lockdown due to COVID-19 has caused lots of anguish and worry. She wrote about how lockdown effected her mental wellbeing and what she wishes to continue with after restrictions are lifted.
During lockdown, my mental health has really been like a roller coaster. I understand that most of us feel this way. There have been days where I feel a boost of energy and eager to get on with certain things. Other days I just wanted to stay in my PJs and watch TV as I felt completely helpless. Accepting this is something out of my control has been extremely hard and there are times I feel like giving up.
As I write this, there are talks of lifting lockdown restrictions. For this year, nothing will be the completely the same. I read an article in the I Newspaper from someone who has struggled with mental health issues. Like me, she is living apart from her partner and we both share a similar point about lockdown being lifted.
We are both looking forward to lockdown being lifted; for me, that will mean being able to see my partner again, seeing family members, meeting up with my best friends for a catch up…..the list is endless. At the same time, both of us are anxious about lockdown being lifted. The following questions run through my head.
- Are we going to go back that 100 miles per hour pace that everyone seemed to go pre-lockdown? That time where it didn’t appear we had time for anything.
- Are we going to forget how to enjoy the simple things?
- Will we still remember to not take things for granted?
I thought I would take this opportunity to share with you things I have learnt about myself during this time. I also hope to take on these lessons I have learnt and keep on doing certain activities that have work wonders for my mental health.
Walking In The Fresh Air Works Wonders
I understand most of us know this already but I have started to notice this during lockdown. Walking has been my main form of exercise during lockdown. I am lucky that I live close to a canal path and a nature reserve. The walk I usually take starts and ends at my house so it’s perfect. It is also a peaceful place to go when I need to sort through thoughts and the fresh air helps clear my head. I also find I get most of my inspiration for writing and ideas for the website when I am outside. It is something I am definitely going to carry on with.
Animals Bring Me Joy
On my walks, I am sometimes joined by my Granddad’s guide dog Fergus. I help my Granddad by walking Fergus and making sure he gets a good run over the field. At the moment, he is my motivation who gets me out of bed in mornings. Walking Fergus always helps me better and something I am going to continue doing.
My family and I are one of the lucky ones with a back garden. My mum got me into bird watching quite recently. It’s really fascinating learning about their different calls and colourings. One of the things I like to do is fill up the bird feeding table and bird bath. Watching them flock to the table after filling it is rather satisfying.
Technology Isn’t All Bad
Yes, a few people use technology irresponsibly and a lot of the time we focus on that. At the same time, it’s a wonderful thing that helps us stay in touch with our loved ones. During lockdown, I haven’t been able to spend time or see my partner. Like those who aren’t living with their partners or family members, I miss my partner a lot. Video chat on Facebook Messenger has been fantastic for me and my partner. Actually, seeing their face when talking to them makes a huge difference.
Lazy Days Are More Than OK
During this pandemic, some of us have felt the pressure to be productive every day due to extra time being given. I am here to tell you that lazy days are actually a welcome break and gives your body time to rest. There have been days where I have felt de-motivated and not wanting to do anything, I have learnt that this is OK. I have learnt first-hand trying to force yourself to do something when your mental health is low. It doesn’t work and you end up feeling worse. So, if you need a day chilling and doing a hobby that helps you relax, do it.
Make The Most Of Your Good Days
As well as bad mental health days, you will have good ones where you feel motivated. Take that chance and make the most of that motivation. Use that energy to do something creative, productive or both. For me; these things are usually writing reviews, working on my podcast, chores that have been on the back burner, cooking and trying new things. For me; these new things include learning new recipes and learning about gardening.
It’s OK Not To Be OK
These are really scary times. You wonder if you can live your normal day-to-day life the same way again. You worry about a loved one risking their life as one of many key workers who are on the frontline. You’re in anticipation of what the next guidelines will be. It’s a lot to take in, it’s something none of us have experienced before. So, it’s OK to feel scared, worried and upset. When you feel this way, let a member of your household know or phone a loved one. I know it’s easier said than done but don’t bottle these feelings up, talk to someone you love and trust. More importantly, talk to someone who you know will sit, listen and acknowledge your feelings without interrupting.
Count Your Blessings
I understand it’s easy to focus on the negatives of lockdown right now. Not seeing loved ones, people dying, the fear of catching an infection, the list goes on. One of the things that has helped me through this is counting my blessings and not taking anything for granted. I understand on some days this might be hard to do given what’s going on. Honestly, remembering to appreciate what you have has been helpful. It’s OK to acknowledge that you are sad, worried and scared. This is easier said than done but try not to dwell on these feelings and do try to make the best of a bad situation.
Those are the things I have learnt during lockdown and I plan on continuing following these lessons I have learnt and carry on doing these things.
I wish to express my undying gratitude and thanks to all NHS staff and key workers who have kept things flowing. I cannot thank you guys enough for keeping things going whilst we are living through this pandemic.
My final words to you: you are not alone, it’s OK not to be OK and we will all get through this together.
Words: Lotty Whittingham
If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, here is a list of websites and helplines:
MIND The Mental Health Charity – 0208 215 2243
Samaritans – 116 123
Anxiety UK – Helpline: 03444 775 774/Text Service: 07537 416 905