All You Have To Do Is Be, And You’re Doing It Brilliantly
by Joe Schofield • June 15th, 2020 • 3min
Stop. Breathe. Reflect.
Men’s Health Week is upon us, and this year it’s more important than ever. So many of us are confined to our homes, some of us live alone — and you can bet your bottom dollar that being deprived of all the usual social interaction would put a strain on anyone’s health in general, but today I want to touch on mental health.
I Am Lucky
I’m lucky. Very lucky. I’m fortunate enough that my career allows me to work remotely — pretty much unhindered. This has meant that I have been able to continue working throughout the pandemic we’re currently going through. I’ve also had some very drastic changes to my personal life, and having work to focus on to temporarily stop dwelling on that has allowed me to process everything very healthily.
I’m also lucky because I have an amazing support network of friends, family, and colleagues who have all been there for me when I needed them. If you’re reading this, you know who you are, and thank you 💙
And finally, I’m lucky because I have never had any major issues with my mental health. That’s not to say I haven’t felt anxiety, despair, loneliness, and suchlike — but I am lucky enough that these feelings have been short-lived.
But Some Are Not
Not everyone is as lucky as I am — I know many people who can no longer work, or who have been furloughed due to COVID-19. These people may be struggling financially as a result, or may have needed work as a distraction from some other problems (similar to myself).
Not everyone has such a fantastic support network. Having people there to support me has helped no end, and I have no idea how I would be feeling if I had not had them around.
And many people already suffered from mental health issues before the lockdown began. Or have since developed conditions that make an already tough situation even harder.
Seriously. If you take one thing away from this, take this:
You 👏 Don’t 👏 Need 👏 To 👏 Thrive 👏 Right 👏 Now.
So — you’ve been furloughed! Or you have fewer social engagements so you have more free time! You’d better use it well — learn 18 new skills, and a new language or two, get super fit, break a world record, and become a baking deity.
Oh no, wait. You don’t have to do any of that. Instead, here’s a list of everything you need to be doing at the moment:
Go out as little as possible, to avoid spreading the virus
If you can check that box, you’re doing fantastic! Well done, pat on the back, run yourself a bath and read a nice book. Obviously, if you want to keep busy with all of the above activities, be my guest. But no-one will be asking how you made the most of your lockdown time… And if they do, well — they probably just have something they want to show off.
Right now, I’d love you to do the following:
- Stop anything else you’re doing while reading this, you can come back to it in a moment.
- Raise your shoulders, and breathe in the deepest breath you’ve taken all day.
- Lower your shoulders, and breathe out until your lungs feel empty.
- Repeat a few times, if you feel like it.
This is my go-to routine if I’m feeling stressed, or anxious. It’s not going to cure depression or chronic anxiety, but it might just provide a brief respite.
Take a moment, ideally after a few breaths so you’re feeling a little more relaxed. During this moment, just think about your daily life — is there anything that is no longer serving you? A feeling of anger, perhaps, or a part of your routine which does nothing but cause you stress.
It’s sometimes easy to trudge on through a stressful experience, and not consider if we can leave our heavy boots behind and run barefoot for a while. You might just find it helps you go further.
I am completely unqualified, and very inexperienced when it comes to mental health. Sadly, so many people have terrible experiences, and this can be literally unbearable. Be there for those people, be a shoulder to cry on or a friendly ear for them to vent to. If you need to cry or vent, do so — and do so in company where possible.
Taking a few deep breaths isn’t going to cure anyone permanently. And cutting out negative impacts on your mental health is not always going to be possible. Just remember there is always help out there. People want to help more than you realise, but sometimes you just need to take the first step.
So remember, all you have to do is be, and you’re doing it brilliantly.
All You Have To Do Is Be, And You’re Doing It Brilliantly was originally published in YLD Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Written by Joe Schofield • June 15th, 2020
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