With the UK government announcing at least another three weeks of lockdown (it was always going to happen) it's right that there should be increased focus on mental health. People may have coped so far but the longer it goes on the worse it will be.

One of the permitted reasons for leaving your home is physical exercise, that's been built in from the start, but getting out can also have a dramatic impact on mental well-being - just a quick break to change the scenery or see the sun and the sky can make all the difference.

It's been particularly hard whilst in isolation, especially now that we've got a second potential case in the household thanks to a persistent dry cough, as you lose that opportunity to escape the confines of your house. There's the option of the back garden but it's not the same, it still feels too closed in.

I dread to think how the most vulnerable people are coping, will cope, those advised to not leave their house for 12 weeks. I can't imagine that.

There have been some discussions in our house about this, about longing to get out, but then you have to weigh any trip against the potential risks of exposure. As we know only too well it doesn't matter how careful you are you can still catch the virus.

You've got to take solace from anything you can, especially the relationships within your household. My writing practices (morning pages and daily log) are of particular comfort, as is daily meditation, but you have to go further than that. Seeing Captain Tom Moore walk 100 laps of his garden to raise money for the NHS was particularly heart-warming. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge re-emphasising that lockdown can be stressful and calling for action to address mental health issues was also good to see, but they've long been mental health advocates. Then there's "Clap for carers" each Thursday evening.

Still, it's hard to find the good news stories without being exposed to the bad and the bleak; all you can do is not get caught up in the 24 hour news cycle, dipping in only when you need to.

We talk about returning to normal but that is a very long way off. Even once restrictions are eased it will be gradual and there will be some element of social distancing for a while, not to mention the issues around trusting other people. We are all going to be very wary of things for a long time to come.

We talk about the current situation calling it "the new normal," but there is nothing normal about this whatsoever. Things will likely never be "normal" again, just different. A vaccine may be found and administered for Covid-19 but the impact of the virus will live on in our collective memory and will affect future behaviour, it has to.

I mentioned recently about looking back on items I'd saved for later. One such item was "How many things really change us?" by Julian Summerhayes in which he says:

"it’s unlikely that anything other than a brush with death or watching a loved one die will knock you from your perch or influence you to such a degree that you’ll do a volte face [on] your predilection not to interfere with or disturb the status quo... too many of us, even if broken asunder for a while, soon (if we’re not careful) revert to our human ways."

The pandemic is essentially a collective brush with death, it surely can't not change us. Too many people have lost friends and loved ones and the rest of us can only look on in disbelief at the rising global death toll. It is a huge shock to the system, both individually and societally, a wake up call that the status quo needs to be disturbed. We cannot possibly go back to how we were before but I fear many will, just as they have ignored the advice and seemingly tried to ignore the current reality.

  1. yes the mental health side of it is going to have a huge impact in the weeks to come. I feel very privileged having a garden for the kids to burn off some energy. I really feel for those with no outside space such as flats/tower blocks etc. Noticed you mention morning pages. This is a new concept I’ve only come across in the past few days, and am going to look into it further. Do you get a lot out of it?
  2. Colin Walker says: #
    Absolutely. They're just a vehicle for your mind to say whatever it's got on it. It's not like you're sitting down with a plan, it's just whatever comes out and once you get going all sorts of thoughts bubble to the surface that you never knew you had. There's a lot of truth in them if you allow it.
  3. MitchWagner says: #
    Second the endorsement of morning pages. I don't follow the rules strictly, but for more than six weeks, the first thing I do every day is sit down and journal. I try to write down everything that seems important to me. Sometimes I cut-and-paste some of it to social media and the blog. My goal was never to post my thoughts and feelings, but always to simply keep a daily record of where I had been and what I had done, following Isaac Asimov's model. But thoughts and feelings get in there anyway!
  4. Thanks for the advice chaps. Is it merely a fact of starting with The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and taking it from there, or is there some other go to resource that everyone uses?
  5. MitchWagner says: #
    Just spend some time writing as soon as you can comfortably do so after you wake up. You’ll figure it out from there. Don’t kill yourself doing it either. Before I get to my morning pages, I wash up and take care of a few small chores that need doing every morning. And I make my coffee and drink my 1st cup with the pages.

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