Coming out of Lockdown: Looking after our Mental Health

How will you feel as you start to live the kind of life you lived before March 2020? Will you want to mingle with friends and family, and start hugging again and smiling without masks?

After around 14 months now of lockdown, here are some uplifting tips about venturing outside and mingling with other people.

Many of us older people have struggled with loneliness as we have stayed inside to protect ourselves from getting Covid. Often we have not seen many people and then they have been hidden behind their masks and some of us have not really seen anyone at all, other than the postie, couriers or those kind people delivering our food and medicines.

Laughter helps and relieves stress. Think about the last time you laughed…and how you felt much happier and brighter afterwards. That old saying “Laughter is the best medicine” has a lot of truth in it.

From around being 25 onwards the amount we laugh reduces…a four year old laughs 300 times a day; a 40-year-old takes ten weeks to laugh 300 times. Smile and the world smiles with you.

  • Watch more TV comedies and listen to radio comedies and of course comedy films – when you laugh out loud you feel better
  • Make a list of your ten favourite comedy programmes
  • Look in the mirror and laugh…when you brush your teeth greet the day with a big laugh…not when you are brushing the pearly whites of course
  • Watch funny pet videos on YouTube, or Tom and Jerry..or other cartoons that make you laugh
  • Why not try laughter yoga? There are laughter yoga classes up and down the country – visit laughterclub.org.uk
  • Have fun on the phone. Get your day going with a giggle. Every morning people across the UK get together to share a laugh on a free ten-minute phone call with the Telephone Laughter Club
  • When you feel down, call a friend and smile together over the phone

Never forget how nature helps to heal you

Even if you live in a flat or a house without a garden, as I do.

In Greater Manchester, there is nearly always green space within walking distance of where you live, whether it’s parks or even open countryside.

Your local council website is a great place to find out about parks and events.

  • Check online you can find where the open spaces and paths are located
  • Bring the outside in: If you don’t have a garden put plants on your windowsill, turn your balcony into a private garden or add a hanging plant to your wall if you have one
  • If you have a small outdoor space then fill pots with plants and herbs and even put vegetables in them
  • Put up a painting or photo of your local area in your home
  • Nature boosts mental health: A walk in a park instead of a city street lifts your mood as you are looking at trees and plants and seeing the wildlife..the bees and butterflies and birds and sometimes squirrels
  • Wildlife Trusts found that people who take part in some kind of outdoor activity every day for a month felt happier and healthier
  • Trees make us compassionate Not just tree-hugging but staring up at a tree for a minute makes us kinder and compassionate. Breathing in the air and seeing all the wildlife around you
  • 45% of adults say they feel lonely in England. Studies have shown that taking advantage of natural settings enables social bonding and better neighbourly ties. The government has recognised this by pledging to introduce more green spaces
  • Salford is no longer a “dirty old town” and now has 60% green space and is greener than Bristol or Brighton. And the new RHS garden in Worsley has just opened, and entry is free for Salford residents for the first 12 months

As we come out of lockdown and can meet our friends and family why not take some time out to laugh and enjoy the nature around us.

Being an older person living in Greater Manchester can be so wonderful with all the friendly people who live here and remember the four key lessons we have learnt during the lockdown.

Respect

Show consideration and a sense of regard for others and ourselves and only do those things that we are comfortable with. Be cautious careful and responsive.

Patience

Be patient with yourself and others as we all try to re-engage. Move at your own pace as you come out of lockdown and give yourself time to adjust.

Honesty

Be open about how you feel and tell others what you are worried about and what you have been through. That way we can all start to re-engage with each other meaningfully.

Kindness

Show each other kindness. That will help us all to feel more confident in getting you there again. Give people a wave or a smile, say thank you to front line workers.

And if people smile at you… smile back.

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