Mental Health Week 2020: Moving forwards together during the uncertainty of coronavirus with It’s OK To Say
PUBLISHED: 10:18 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 10:18 21 May 2020
What is kindness? Tender kindness is motivated by a feeling of affection; the quality of being warm-hearted and considerate, humane, sympathetic and generous. The powerful act of kindness to one’s self and others, no matter how small is underrated for its bursts of value for happiness and wellbeing. The tiniest little offer of kindness sparks a glow and inspires.
Research shows kindness and our mental health are deeply connected. Kindness is an antidote to isolation and creates a sense of belonging. We’ve witnessed this in abundance during COVID-19, as it helps reduce stress, brings a fresh perspective and deepens friendships.
Kindness to ourselves can prevent shame from corroding our sense of identity and help boost our self-esteem. Kindness can even improve feelings of confidence and optimism. When one practices and accepts kindness, it is said that it promotes a feeling of being fully alive.
The last 18 months have certainly been something for me personally. Two back to back surgeries, one major, two infections, one with complications and sepsis, not to mention coming to terms with my loss and climbing Kilimanjaro. I wouldn’t recommend having major surgery and then climb a mountain in another country, but for me it was my salvation, plus I had the support and sheer kindness that with every step made it possible.
Climbing Kilimanjaro is very much like facing and overcoming anxiety with the descent back to basecamp following the peak akin to the healing and recovery we now all face during the COVID-19 crisis.
While many will come through it without lasting negative effects, many face psychological harm and trauma from the disruption brought to our lives. Ambivalent is my word, mixed feelings about everything as it all seems up in the air without certainties, but these mixed feelings are OK.
Not long before lockdown, I was given the go-ahead to throw myself back into becoming the strong me again, you can imagine how happy I felt – I felt free from this gripping time that had me stuck.
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I reached out to my sister, Stefanie Lawrence in Brisbane, Australia. Stefanie is a dedicated and passionate personal trainer and nutritionist, a mental health champion who from personal experience connects it all together with an abundance of support. I have never felt closer to my sister; this connection is helping us battle through despite us being on opposite sides of the world.
During my descent down Kili, I slid and fell, it is still a blur. When I couldn’t go on through absolute exhaustion, I reached out where at one point, I was carried. I wish I could show you a video of the bunch of guides surrounding me on the lower part approaching camp, they stayed so close until I collapsed into my tent.
Throughout all this uncertainty, I understand how fragile life may seem, where you were once stronger, now feel wobbly, dealing with loss and a range of emotions and hurt.
It’s helpful to have self-compassion, to be kind to yourself and others with little expectation. “I need to do this, but it’s OK if I don’t right now.” You may find it helpful to reach out, maintaining connection – together makes for a better.
Think about how you can slowly weave yourself in and become part of and forming the social fabric that is our everyday that we depend on. Kindness develops community.
While things may never be the same, let’s find our new way together, more connected than ever, wobbles and all with sheer kindness. If you need a bunch of guides surrounding you, that’s perfectly OK.
I hope you take comfort in the turquoise illumination of the Cathedral this week in honour of It’s OK To Say and Mental Health Awareness Week. May you send love and light to those who need it while acknowledging your own needs in a kind and mindful manner and if there is distance between your connections, know it is just as meaningful.
Visit www.itsoktosay.org.uk for further reading, we’re here for you in the here and now while supporting the road forward.
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