health, mental health, wellbeing

Sign of the Times

As dark days set in and the colour drains from our communities, is it a sign of things to come?

Once again we’re in lockdown. The rules are becoming stricter, and people’s wellbeing is bound to take a tumble, especially as the last time we had lockdown we had sun and blue skies to see us through the day. With the wintery weather approaching and dark days becoming the norm, it’s only set to get harder.

Interestingly, on my morning walk I took in the neighbourhood noticeboard – a usual past time. Usually filled with bright fliers for events such as zumba classes, coffee mornings, and local talks, it’s now standing virtually empty. A normally cheerful break along the route, it’s predominantly a black background, although there are a few fliers remaining. The once cheerful note of shared community fun though is replaced with questions such as ‘do you need help with your debt problem?’ (I didn’t know I had one yet. Maybe it knows something I don’t).

It’s a sad sign of the times but a clear indication of the world we are living in. We can’t meet up, or if we do, it’s extremely restricted; we can’t go to events that normally serve to improve our wellbeing; we can’t live like we did. Instead we can worry about debt, struggling to feed ourselves, and getting through each day. How much of this is the government’s doing? And are they forcing us to put out these questions to make us consider and worry about these situations more than we need to?

Anxiety is already rife. People need support not scaremongering into catastrophising their situation.

Whilst it’s a scary prospect that the virus is still lurking, an interesting item on the TV when I returned home stated that mental health professionals are calling on the government to keep communication channels open. Those at the top have done well so far it seems in stopping lunch meals for children who otherwise would go hungry, throwing oxymoronic speeches at us, and showing who’s in control by locking us down, despite some data proving things aren’t perhaps as bad as we thought.

Mental health and wellbeing are taking a real knock and professionals in the field are desperate for the government to pay attention to them and work together to provide what is essentially a cohesive all-round support ‘package’ rather than a lockdown now which affects people and a big banner one week before the 25th December that saves ‘Boris Saved Christmas’ as lockdown is released. What are we meant to do? Clap and cheer him as a demi-God? I’m not sure. One psychotherapist interviewee claimed figures aren’t showing the true picture. How true is this I wonder?

Recently I heard someone (a lay person) say that the media had stated a 100% increase in cases in hospital admissions in one area compared to the previous day. What they failed to note was that there was only one person in the hospital with covid the previous day, so a 100% increase made it two people. In Oxford, only recently, I was told that there was only one person with covid in hospital, the rest being at home, which whilst not pleasant and numbers have gone up (due to more testing?), it suggests they are able to manage it and do not need hospitalisation. One covid testing centre has also been reverted back to its former use. Now I was never a mathematician but something’s not adding up.

I suppose it’s difficult to know what to do but it does feel as though the government are playing with people’s lives and livelihoods. I get that we do need to play our part and support each other, and for the most part, the majority seem to be. We do need those channels of communication to be open though with two way conversations, and we do need to find ways of pulling through with a bit of the Blitz spirit.

I liked a recent Facebook post that suggested communities could do what the Scandinavian’s do after Halloween and put a few fairy lights up in the window to recognise that Christmas is on the way. Apparently it cheers the place up. It does. I tried it last night, but what else could we do to get through this second wave of lockdown?

Here’s an idea. Maybe those community noticeboards that everybody passes could be made more cheerful again and have art work up from local artists, photography of ‘my favourite place’, or posters that simply say ‘call me and have a chat’, ‘you’re doing great today’, and ‘smile and the world smiles with you’. That kind of thing. Some positivity rather than doom and gloom would really go a long way at the moment.

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