Coronavirus Lockdown: Mental Health Resources (UK)

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Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

I bet I’m not the only one feeling a little wobbly at the moment. I know full well how hard it is living with mental health problems under normal circumstances, let alone under lockdown! A recent survey by Kings College London reveals that many people are finding things very difficult right now, and that’s not really a surprise. These are uncertain times for everyone.

I hope you are all OK out there. I’m successfully remaining as calm as I can (well, most of the time anyway!), but I’m not ashamed to admit to being worried about catching the virus and I’ve definitely been overthinking it a bit. Hopefully, my battered immune system will continue to behave itself (ditto my mental health!) and I’ll get through this relatively unscathed – and I hope you do too.

Since I can’t be out and about very much (big up all the volunteers, NHS workers, and key workers who are out and about, keeping the UK going right now), I decided that I could use my knowledge and experience of the mental health system from home and provide some (mostly general) information that might help if you or someone you know is finding lockdown difficult from a mental health perspective.

Not all of this information will be useful for everyone, and it is strongly focused on the UK, but I hope you find something that does help – if I’ve missed anything (or if anything is incorrect), please let me know. You can comment on this post or tweet me.

NB: If you or someone you know is currently in crisis, please scroll down to the bottom of this post for details of available resources.

Stay safe, keep well, and much love x

Continue reading “Coronavirus Lockdown: Mental Health Resources (UK)”

March Update: The Coronavirus Edition

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Like most of you, I’m stuck at home due to the coronavirus. I’m having to be very careful, since my deeply confused and unhappy immune system has a tendency to go into complete meltdown if anyone so much as sneezes within a mile of it. Luckily, it’s behaving itself at the moment and I am well, but I’m not taking any risks – and neither should you.

I have a number of new posts planned – one of which will be my 500th, believe it or not! I’ll also be posting links to some essential resources that some of you may need during the lockdown. I may not be able to get out and help directly, but I can provide information and try to distract from the boredom of being sat at home.

We are living in strange times. The normality we are used to has skulked off into the sunset, but here are a few small ways of capturing sanity in an uncertain world:

  • Get a daily routine going. Creating structure helps to ground you in difficult circumstances. Sleep is really important in this respect – make sure you’re getting enough if you can.
  • Keep an eye on your mental health too. Isolation and lack of sunlight can do a real number on you, whether you have a diagnosed mental health condition or not. The charity Mind have put together some helpful info here.
  • Relatedly, take Vitamin D if you can. Doctors recommend that everyone should do so during the winter months anyway (my GP is very hot on this) – read the NHS guidance on the subject here.
  • Remember that you don’t have to watch/listen to the news if it’s creating stress and anxiety for you. And if you do watch/listen, take it all with a big pinch of salt (see here and here for ways to do that). The same applies to social media.
  • You can indeed read the books you’ve always meant to read, but if you’re anything like me, the comfort book is the way to go. Re-read childhood favourites, and books that make you laugh, and books that transport you to another world. Same goes for other forms of media too. Escapism is not a bad thing.
  • Handcream. No, seriously. All this handwashing, though necessary, is drying out your skin and that can become very uncomfortable after a while, especially if you have sensitive skin. Even something as small as a dollop of handcream can make you feel a bit more human! (I swear by this one).
  • Cuddle your cat/dog/guinea pig/ferret/goldfish. Well, maybe not your goldfish, but there’s plenty of scientific evidence that your furry friend can help reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
  • No pet to cuddle? Don’t be ashamed of getting your old teddy out from the back of the wardrobe and cuddling that. It’s a scary world right now, and sometimes old ted is the best companion to have while navigating it.
  • Watch the birdies. I’ve written before about the amazing amounts of local wildlife you can see from your window, even in a big city like London. And since it’s nesting season, you might even get to see the beginnings of a new family… The RSPB have some useful information here to get you started.
  • Open the windows, put your favourite songs on and dance. Not only is this great exercise and guaranteed to get the endorphins flowing, it’s also a brilliant way of tiring out bored and over-active kids!
  • Keep a journal or write a blog. Getting your feelings out of your brain and onto paper or a screen is a really good way of processing them. You don’t have to write much or even every day, but it really does help.

If you like what you read here on Another Kind Of Mind, you can follow me on Twitter. I’m also on Pinterest, where I’ve put together a somewhat extensive London-themed board inspired by my posts here on the subject.

If you’re missing the sport (I am!), don’t worry. I also edit And Still Ricky Villa, a football blog inspired by the legendary 1970s Argentinian midfielder. You can find that on Twitter too, and also Instagram. If you do Pinterest, you’ll also find a variety of football-related boards by me there.

If you fancy watching some football, I’ve compiled a YouTube playlist of complete FA Cup finals going all the way back to 1953 – and there is always the joy of the animal pitch invaders playlist too!

(And incidentally, all the other Playlisting posts are here, covering everything from London to Andy Weatherall and beyond…)

Keep yourself and your loved ones safe. Sending you all love and elbow bumps – from a safe distance of two metres of course!

 

 

Thank you!

Thank you word cloudA huge and appreciative thank you to the NHS, emergency services, train and bus drivers, retail workers, pharmacists, binmen, postal workers, teachers, delivery drivers, utilities workers, small shopkeepers, kind neighbours, carers, and everyone else who is out there keeping Britain going during the coronavirus outbreak.

You are amazing. Stay safe.

Playlisting: Andrew Weatherall

Andrew Weatherall at Headstart, Turnmills, London (2001)
Andrew Weatherall at Headstart, Turnmills, London (2001)

Just what is it that you want to do?

We wanna be free. We wanna be free to do what we wanna do.

And we wanna get loaded, and we wanna have a good time.

And that’s what we’re gonna do.

We’re gonna have a good time. We’re gonna have a party…

Peter Fonda, The Wild Angels (1966)

Andrew Weatherall certainly knew how to have a party. An early participant in the notorious British acid house scene who was known for his six-plus hour sets and his writing for the cult Boy’s Own fanzine, this prolific DJ, remixer and producer was behind so much of the music I danced myself silly to in the 1990s. More than simply an underground club DJ with a penchant for a good time, his work has rightly become hugely influential over the last couple of decades. You may not perhaps think you know any of his work, but – trust me – you do.

Continue reading “Playlisting: Andrew Weatherall”

Farewell to the European Union

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I’m thoroughly ashamed of my country sometimes. As the sun sets on our membership of the European Union, I could only find this to say. It seemed rather apt under the circumstances.

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne (1572-1631)

Christmas in Space: The ISS Edition

ISS-38: Astronaut Mike Hopkins on a Christmas Eve Spacewalk (2013)
ISS-38: Astronaut Mike Hopkins on a Christmas Eve Spacewalk (2013)

Imagine Christmas in zero-gravity. Pouring the gravy on your turkey dinner would certainly be a bit of a challenge for a start. I’m not sure how you’d even begin to wrap your pressies up without the sellotape, the wrapping paper and the present floating away. And I don’t think space stations actually have chimneys for Santa to get down anyway, so how would your pressies be delivered in the first place?

There are, however, a small group of quite amazing people who have faced all these things and have actually managed to spend Christmas in space. These fantastic photos (below) of the festive season onboard the International Space Station (ISS), Mir, and Skylab are from the NASA archive, and are a glimpse into what Christmas is like when you’re in earth orbit and very far from home…

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And as a bonus, here’s the famous video of astronaut and social media star Commander Chris Hadfield performing the David Bowie classic ‘Space Oddity’ while actually in space. How rock n roll is that?

For much more Christmas stuff, direct your mouse into orbit here.

Santa Claus, the Pub Crawl

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Blimey. Not sure I should have had that third helping of sherry trifle – I’m seeing multiple Santas now! This jolly festive overspill was snapped at the famous World’s End pub in Camden, North London in 2009.

This was one of the first images I found while hunting for Christmassy blog post stuff on Wikimedia Commons this year, and I couldn’t resist sharing it. Because, in the end, how many Santas are too many Santas!?

I think there’s no such thing, so many more Santas (both old and new) will be winging their way to you in the run-up to Christmas day – welcome to Santa Week on Another Kind Of Mind!

For lots more Christmas reading (and viewing) from me, click here

 

Bringing in the Mistletoe (1959)

Boys from Trawsfynydd collecting holly and mistletoe to sell (December 1959)

I’ve been seeing a lot of Christmas decorations going up this last week or so (although someone on my street has actually had their tree up since Halloween!). I’m still catching up a bit, I’ve only just dragged my tree out of the cupboard where it lives for the rest of the year – although I have bought some cute new ornaments already and have been wondering where I might get some sprigs of holly to add to the festive wreath I hang on my front door.

These cheerful young lads might have helped me in that last respect. They’re from the Welsh village of Trawsfynydd, and they have been preparing for Christmas in traditional fashion by gathering festive greenery from the local area.

Photographer Geoff Charles has caught these 1950s schoolboys on their way to the market to sell their carefully gathered bundles of holly and mistletoe; green winter treasures that are destined to decorate the houses and cottages of the village for Christmas – and earn these young entrepreneurs a bit of pocket money towards festive expenses too…

The lads in this charming 1959 photograph from the National Library of Wales collection would have had an amazing natural environment to grow up in, and Christmas traditions connected to the landscape like gathering seasonal greenery for the home or for sale would likely have been a longstanding custom repeated by successive generations of kids and adults.

Bringing in the mistletoe and taking it to market was a tradition rich in symbolism elsewhere too, which you can see in these 18th and 19th-century images of mistletoe sellers from France and Switzerland. It is pleasing to report that mistletoe markets remain part of the Christmas season in numerous places to this day.

For lots more Christmas reading (and viewing) from me, click here