Natasha Wilson Guest Blog: Mental Health
- Posted on Oct 9, 2020
Covid-19 has affected everyone worldwide in some way or other. We can’t know how we are going to experience the illness until it happens which can be scary and worrying. Knowing the risk to myself as someone with a very rare form of OI called Bruck Syndrome, I started shielding at home from the beginning of March to protect myself as much as possible. My husband, Lee, was furloughed from his work for about 3 months and I was lucky that I could work from home so we were financially stable for a while which reduced our anxiety.
I also changed jobs during lockdown which wasn’t great timing but the transition went smoothly and I didn’t regret it. It can be difficult for any individual to stay both physically and mentally well during a national lockdown and with such strong restrictions but that difficulty is heightened for an OI sufferer. I threw myself into my work because it kept me busy and distracted me from my worries about the virus. I am a Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner (PWP) in the NHS and my job involves helping people with their mental health difficulties including anxiety about Coronavirus. I worked on the NHS 111 mental health helpline for a couple of months which was eye opening and quite stressful. What my job has showed me during this difficult time is that lots of people are struggling when it comes to Covid-19 and none of us are alone which is a comforting thought.
So how can we stay mentally and physically well during the current climate? We may have hobbies that we already enjoy doing or used to do and have found we don’t have the time to do them anymore but maybe now we have that time. Maybe now is an opportune time to try a new hobby, one that we have been meaning to do for a while but not got round to doing. I enjoy doing colouring and I have a number of adult colouring books in my bookcase. I also discovered diamond painting last year which has really helped with my anxiety because it makes me focus on the activity rather than focussing on my worrying thoughts.
Some people may be more physically active and they may find that exercise can keep them both physically and mentally well. Lee has enjoyed taking our dog for walks during lockdown and he sometimes rides his bike to get more of a workout. We don’t have to be an exercise addict to enjoy simple exercise regimes at home or in our gardens, or even just to go for a short stroll in our neighbourhood. Going for walks, jogs, runs, bike rides etc can bring a number of advantages: they keep us physically active, mentally active and they get us out in our communities which is a harder feat at the moment.
I’ve found that keeping a journal each day helps with transferring the worries I may have or negative thoughts from my head onto paper which can be very therapeutic and I have done this for a few years. A journal helps in the present moment and it can act as a souvenir of the past as we move to the future.
Most of all we must remember to make use of our support networks and those around us because we are all in similar boats. Family and friends may be difficult to visit physically because of restrictions and social distancing but we can adapt by using social media and Zoom calls. I know that I have found solace from talking to my friends and family regularly and my husband is a rock for me as I hope I am for him. If anything, Covid-19 has shown me what and who is important in my life.
Stay safe and well everyone 😊
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