This week has been Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme has been nature. It feels like the perfect theme, particularly since so many of us have connected with the outdoors in the pandemic.
It seems appropriate to put self care front and centre at the beginning of a bank holiday weekend. Judging by the comments on social media, most people argue self-care should be a priority. I don’t see anyone say otherwise. Yet people still feel stressed, experience burnout, suffer depression and anxiety.
I made a mistake recently. It was pretty bad. I know the mantra … a mistake is simply an opportunity to learn. I broadly agree with the philosophy and encourage others to see it this way but as is so often the case, it’s easier said than done.
Today, Monday 18 January, is Blue Monday. In a normal year the cold and wet weather, dark nights and credit card bills landing on the door mat take a toll. This year we’re contending with the lockdown too! Feeling ‘blue’ is a perfectly healthy response.
Here we are in another lockdown. Even though most of us were expecting it, it still felt pretty sudden when it came. 2020 may have taught us flexibility and adaptability, but 2021 is already taking it to a whole new level.
Self care matters. Neglect it and we burn out. Our relationships suffer. Our creativity and problem solving abilities drop away. But give it the time and attention it deserves and we can flourish, with plenty of resources to do what we need to, engage with and care for the people we love and, really importantly, enjoy life!
So, presuming the vote in the House of Commons tomorrow backs it, we are going into lockdown in England again. The edges of this lockdown are a little more blurred than was the case so there are more questions than previously about exactly what it means for each of us. The questions can get out of control, running ahead at a million miles an hour. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Against this backdrop, it seems very apt that this is International Stress Awareness Week.
It was husband’s birthday this week. Getting him a gift he’ll love is always a challenge. If I ask, he’ll give me a modest little list. He never wants very much.
“Don’t stress about it, it doesn’t really matter.” “Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be okay.” “You’ll be fine.” “You’re over thinking it, it’s not a big issue.” “That’s not really a problem so I wouldn’t fret.” We’ve all said phrases like these when someone’s anxious about something. We’ve been trying to reassure, to boost the confidence of the other person, to stop them worrying. The problem is it doesn’t work. Instead of a little reassurance convincing you everything’s going to be okay, most people hear “I don’t really understand what you’re worried about - you’re on your own”.
I have been a fan of The Archers for about 30 years. Like every good, long-standing soap, it mixes funny story lines with both hard hitting and gentle ones. One of the harder ones right now is Alice’s alcoholism. There is history between Alice and her sister-in-law, Emma, so the latter’s motives may not have been that pure, but when she went to share her concerns with her brother, Alice’s husband, and Alice herself, things did not go well.