What I’ve learnt about my mental health a year into the pandemic
We've all been through a lot this year and had to learn to prioritise our mental health. Eve, 20, shares what she's learnt about her own mental health one year into the pandemic.
While in many ways the easing of lockdown restrictions brings a huge sense of relief, like many I am experiencing a fair amount of anxiety around these seemingly fast-approaching changes.
You will see a widely positive narrative online, and possibly among the people around you, but it’s important you take the pressure off yourself to feel a certain way and recognise that it’s okay if your feelings are more complex.
Coping with change is hard and overwhelming, especially when so many of us have the ‘stay home, stay safe’ motto etched into our brains. It’s difficult to reverse that and fit back into ‘normal’ society.
When you feel like you have lost so much to lockdown and the pandemic it can be difficult to find the positive takeaway points. I wanted to reflect on what I have learnt in this experience.
- I learnt that despite the anxious part of my brain sometimes convincing me otherwise, I have a wide circle of friends and family that support me. People I have missed, am grateful for and am really looking forward to seeing once it feels safe to do so.
- I learnt that there are so many ways of maintaining close friendships and relationships from a distance, which has made me realise that I want to continue having regular video/voice calls with those I care about regardless of the pandemic.
- I learnt that although I have enough within me to keep going through the darker times, it is important to reach out for help to change that survival mode mindset into living a happy contented life.
- I learnt that we as humans have an incredible ability to adapt and find light in the smallest of things - I never thought I would be so grateful to sit in a café or my family home!
- I learnt how important nature and walking is to me. Over the past few months my frequent solo escapades have provided me with a real sense of escapism and time to get that all-important headspace.
- I learnt the importance of truly prioritising my mental health and putting in place the necessary measures to achieve better emotional wellbeing. Taking back a bit of control from the disordered part of my brain and gaining some autonomy over my life decisions and daily living.
- I learnt that sometimes drifting from friends or family does not reflect a failure on either part but a necessary indication that you are both growing in different directions. In this I realised that endings do not always equate to loss. Sometimes things don’t last and that’s okay.
I do not want it to seem like there were only positives - there were definitely low points and there are many things that I cannot wait to be able to do again. But there were still so many lessons that I have learnt through this time that I want to continue to apply to my life, no matter to what extent the rules are eased.
I guess what I am trying to express is that we need to remove the pressure to return to the exact lives that we had before the pandemic because we have all been through such a journey over the past year.
If you do not want to go back to overworking yourself in a job you do not love, that you are soon to be returning to, you have some choice in that. If you have found a solo hobby that brings you joy, do not lose it or stop doing it simply because there is pressure to do more ‘exciting’ things.
I personally do not want my life to look the same as it did in the early months of 2020 because I now have a different perspective based on my experiences through these lockdown months, and that’s not a bad thing.
You have built a toolkit to get through a very difficult time and its important that you continue to feel able to turn to those tried and tested methods for looking after yourself, especially if you are feeling anxious about the easing of lockdown.
Author: Eve, 20
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