• Katriona Goodsell

Social distancing: We all cope in different ways

New addition to the GenMH Blog Team, Katriona Goodsell shares with us how she's been coping during the COVID-19 pandemic, and shares some advice for those struggling to settle into these new changes to everyday life.

It’s only been a matter of weeks, and already I shiver at the words “COVID-19.” Having dealt with nothing but enquiry emails about how this will affect volunteers, their placements, their plans and their futures, it’s all I can do not to scream at the mention of the words. I have to remind myself that this is normal, that what I am feeling, how I am reacting is valid. I’m not being a drama queen, not being selfish - I am just as confused and uprooted at this as everyone else.

So how come others are able to deal with the current lockdown more than others? ARE they dealing with it better than I am? Or maybe I’m relying on social media telling me EVERYTHING rather than realising that not everyone posts everything on social media all the time.

It took me a long time to come to terms with the fact that, not only were my own dreams and plans drastically changed, but I now had to respond to everyone else’s worries about the situation as well. I could feel my mental health deteriorating, and fast. So what could I do?

There are hundreds, if not thousands of posts on various social media platforms talking about how to cope with isolation and lockdown - how to help you stay physically and mentally healthy during this strange time. Keep a routine, do yoga, workout, eat healthily……...but isn’t this everybody’s advice for non-COVID times as well?

I tried the yoga, tried the home workouts, tried the healthy eating. But still I could feel myself on the edge of something negative and extremely worrying. I have been working and studying remotely for over 6 months already, so it was time to try and figure out where the cause of my upset was coming from if it wasn’t my usual work environment.

And then it hit me. It wasn’t because I was banned from using the gym, or going to the pub or doing date night in a restaurant - it was because I had only focused on the negatives and not looked at the positives. And that was a personal problem for me.

Mental health is an individual thing, and so my reaction to the current pandemic is an individual thing. You can receive all the advice and help in the world, but that doesn’t mean you are going to find an answer. So yes, follow all of the influencers tips, the tricks for healthy eating, the sleep routines and the advice from family members. But if that doesn’t work, don’t panic. Remember that your feelings are your own, not anybody else’s, and if that means you don’t naturally solve your problems the same way everyone else is appearing to, that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong. It just means you need to listen to yourself, your own body, your own mind and take a minute to figure out what is best for you.