Minding ourselves and our mental wellbeing during Covid19

Covid 19 joan freeman 1

The world is at war …. not between people or countries but we are in battle against an unknown – an entity that can kill thousands within days, an enemy that knows no boundaries and has no respect for anyone. While we are fighting this pandemic with weapons such as enforced isolation and social distancing, we have neglected something more serious, we need to look at the consequences this toll has and will have on our mental health.

The order to stay at home except for essential food or medicines is causing acute distress and anxiety for thousands of people who are being cut off from family members and friends. There is even further distress in our older population who have been told not to go out at all but to remain ‘cocooned’ for their own safety. This does not take into account that this enforced loneliness, will create further feelings of fear and on top of all this their lack of physical activity will feed into or create mental health issues. For all of us, this confinement can trigger many psychological difficulties for many people. However, most of us – the majority of us are the ‘lucky ones’ we are fortunate because we have a home, a garden, some of us have their loved ones with them and who can work from home. Although the confinement is difficult and challenging, just knowing that this too will end, helps us to stay positive. Many people are seeing this time as an opportunity to complete tasks that were put on the long finger, or start new projects. These people are indeed the lucky ones.

But what about the not so fortunate? I am talking about those people who are forced to remain in lock down in homes where there is a history of abuse, or the people who have no home and are living in hotel rooms that have incredibly confined spaces? What about the people who are living in cramped Direct Provision Centers – or those in Nursing Homes where contagion has rocketed? These are the people who need immediate support for their mental health – they also need hope that they too will survive and with the promise from the government that their circumstances will change in the future.

As for the rest of us, while we are busy clearing out cupboards and getting rid of old, forgotten items, maybe we can do some psychological clearing – by cleaning out our negative thoughts…? What about the people that you continue to feel resentful towards? What about the loved one that you had a bitter row with which has never been resolved? What about the friend or the colleague you refuse to forgive? Imagine how much space and energy these negatives are taking up in your head – by removing them, you will instantly create more space for positive memories and you will be opening up your heart to love more deeply. There is a caveat however…. whether you are the one who has been wounded or not – I am suggesting you be the one to forgive (in your head or maybe a kind text message) and even if there is no response… it will be immediately obvious who is the bigger person. By clearing out our heads… we are feeding our heart and soul which in turn improves our mental health.

Joan Freeman – former Senator & Mental Health Activist & Mental Health Consultant for Corporate and Not for Profit organizations email: joan.freeman@fhg.ie

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