23rd May 2020
As mental health awareness week draws to an end I wanted to write a few words in the context of Covid-19.
The benefit of having a week dedicated to mental health awareness is that it offers an opportunity to raise collective consciousness about mental health as well as inviting us all to reflect on our own sense of wellbeing. It becomes a talking point.
This year feels particularly pertinent as we all find ourselves living a very different sort of life. We face challenges both collectively and individually that will be having very real effects on our mental health.
This year’s theme is kindness and how important it is not just for our social interactions but because of the benefit it can have on our own mental health. Indeed, as Covid-19 has forced us to become physically distanced from one another, acts of kindness and concern for each other and our communities have emerged as a way to stay connected. A key ingredient of wellbeing.
Kindness that we can show ourselves is also fundamental to wellbeing. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this actually means and how this might look. Of course, it will be different for each of us but it invites the universal question: how can I be kind to myself?
I think for many this can be a tricky question. It may even be triggering for some. The idea of placing the self at the centre of concern may feel too much to bear, too alien, too much to ask. It may even create more anxiety. This may be particularly so for people recovering from trauma.
Instead, it may be helpful to think about what things we can do to bring a sense of ease, even calm to our anxious nervous systems. What resources do we each have we can use. For some the idea of movement will be important like running or walking, for others being still will help, maybe reading or listening to music. It may even be about having some time and space to think. Simple things like grounding, orienting and even placing your hand to your heart can be really useful resources that are accessible and immediate.
But whatever it is by bringing a mindful, intentional approach to it will ensure we are engaging the thinking parts of the brain, which, in turn will help to calm the anxiety held inside.
Giving ourselves what we need to feel calmer and steadier increases our capacity for creativity, for reason, for coherent thought, for self-compassion. Laying the foundation for a kinder way of being.
Here is a short video I have found about being kinder to ourselves. It won’t be for everyone but feel free to watch and see if it resonates at all with you.
Thank you for reading.