Unprecedented Times, a Time for Growth?

Hi Folks. Delighted to have the opportunity to write a wee blog during Men’s Health Month, and coincidentally, writing this piece on National Stress Awareness Day.

I’m going to begin with a 2020 cliché …

’We are living in Unprecedented Times’

which, by and large, should be the strap line for 2020 and an understatement if I’ve ever heard one.

For those of us who have experienced mental health issues in our lives and to a vast majority of the population , I would assert that we haven’t necessarily been ‘living‘, but, moreover, ‘coping’ through these unprecedented times.

During the initial lock down, I, like so many others out there, could feel that inevitable darkness descend upon me, that unwelcome but sadly familiar guest that appears when life becomes challenging and I know from experience that I need to address this sooner rather than later.

I know that this crisis has provided the perfect storm for those of us who experience mental health issues: uncertainty, the absence of hope, changes to our routines, separation from those who we cherish and love, and a fear of what is to come. This is a very precarious environment for those who have struggled with their mental health and all the more important that we protect ourselves emotionally.

I’ve always found that a good starting point for dealing with challenging circumstances is understanding the physiology of our bodies stress response, and when we recognise what triggers it, we can better manage it. We can’t stop the response, but what we can do is try to manage these external triggers, triggers that this crisis has unfortunately provided in abundance.

So here is a little ‘crisis-kit’ that I’ve tried to introduce into my life that helps me manage these triggers:

  • Reduce the amount of time spent watching the News.
  • Find solace in nature.
  • Be good to yourself.

I like a lot of other people, like to stay informed, though I have observed in myself that the more news I watch, the more anxious I become, and the less news I watch, the happier I am. The amount and content of the news during this crisis, I would confidently say, has been a major factor in the mental health status of the nation.

One thing I’ve learnt in this pandemic, is the healing power of nature. A walk in the fresh air (if your lucky with some sun)- tends to ‘still’ my mind, even on a stormy day it reminds me that the world is still going on, the sun still rises and sets, the birds are still singing, the colours of the leaves still beautiful……(I feel a song coming on!)

Life is difficult enough right now, without stressing about not being as productive as you feel you should be. Set aside time for yourself, doing things that bring you joy and contentment. Cosy up over this winter, make your environment warm and snuggly (is that a word?).

I think its so important to remember: THIS TO WILL PASS! It might not feel that way presently, but we will get past this, and if there is any positive to come out of all of this, and to be honest, there’s very few, it is a new found appreciation to those things that really matter in life, our family, friends and loved ones, the joy of a smile or laughter, the comfort of a hug. Maybe this is an opportunity to reset and re imagine our lives, where creativity and human connection are more important than iphones and Netflix.

Let us decide as individuals what our ‘new normal’ will look like and remember these dark days as not just unprecedented, but unprecedented in terms of personal growth and human connection.

Take good care of yourselves folks.

A Start360 Blog by Mick Gourley, Key Worker, DAISY North service.

For more information on DAISY North please click: #ChangeStartsHere