It’s fair to say, that these are challenging times. We have all endured a considerable period of lockdown now, and with Mental Health Awareness Week‘s focus on the role that kindness can play, I wanted to remind everyone in the NYJO family to look after themselves and each other.
Fortunately for all of us, there are an amazing amount of informative and helpful resources available online, designed to provide useful advice on the issue. What can be harmful though, is allowing yourself to absorb sensational and/or misleading information that can have an adversely negative effect on your sense of wellbeing.
I’ve been finding the lockdown has brought a whole mix of different feelings out. I’ve been on my own in a house in London, so I do miss human contact that’s not over the phone. I’ve really focused on eating well and keeping fit, with yoga and meditation really helping to keep my mind in check! I’m busy with music and there’s always things to do, but I have often found it hard to motivate myself.Joel Knee, NYJO Trombonist
It is perfectly natural to want to stay updated during such a unique time in human history, but it is equally important to ensure that you use sources primarily concerned with delivering this information in a responsible, considerate way. You’ll be able to find some additional resources at the bottom of this post, but we advise that you stick to NHS guidance first and foremost to steer you in the best direction.
The implications resulting from this situation will still be unknown to those in the mental health community, so it’s extra important that we are patient with each other, especially whilst we’re dealing with such uncharted territory. Everyone from young children to adults will be feeling a mix of emotions, so be mindful that this applies to everyone you interact with.
The lockdown has been a really interesting time for me. After 2 years of living life as a full-time freelance musician in London, this was the first time I wasn’t constantly running around gigging, working, organising, teaching, traveling etc. As gigs were put on hold, I finally had some time to think and put a few things in order – in both the physical and the mental side of my life. This time of solitude and mental space has really changed my outlook on many topics: what I want to do in the next few years, what I’ve been wanting to do and never found time for, and habits and unwanted aspects that I’d like to remove.Maria Rehakova, NYJO Flautist
Whether on a group call with friends, or getting through your daily routines in a shared space, be aware of each other and how you’re feeling – and if you’re not sure how someone else is getting on – ask! You might be just the person they needed to talk to. Mind, for example, are asking people to use their #SpeakYourMind campaign to reach out to someone who needs a friend with a positive message. Maybe you could share with them your own tips for coping to make sure they don’t have to face this pandemic alone. Quite often personal accounts can help to make people feel that their own situation is being taken seriously and with due care, inviting them to express themselves in a safe space.
The lockdown initially caused me more panic than anything – the gigs had gone, graduation moved back, recitals potentially online and no real certainty in my future career. Instead of panicking about things I cannot control I have chosen to embrace the free time. With life less hectic and rushed all the time has helped me appreciate the people closest to me and I think we can all be super grateful for the technology we have allowing us to see each other virtually whenever we want!Stephanie Frankland, NYJO Saxophonist
With this is mind, here are a few things I personally want our young people to remember throughout this period:
∙ Have breaks from social media and mute any updates that can trigger anxiety and negative thoughts.
∙ Try turning off your social media notifications as they can become too overwhelming.
∙ Stay connected with the people you care about. Even if it’s a brief phone call, make sure you regularly check in and hear some friendly voices.
∙ Try and strike a balance between having a routine and engaging with different activities. It’s important that you feel positively stimulated by a variety of experiences.
∙ Include some downtime! When you do take time to switch off, make sure you do just that.
∙ Getting fresh air, eating well, exercising, staying hydrated and keeping regular sleeping routines are all big contributors to your sense of wellbeing. Nobody’s perfect, but just be aware that they can each make a difference to your mood.
In the simplest of terms: if you’re feeling anxious or low, make sure you reach out to friends, family members or trusted support networks straight away. To those of you in the NYJO family, I include myself in that list, so please don’t be shy. Pick up the phone.
Hosted by the Mental Health Foundation, Mental Health Awareness Week takes place from 18-24 May 2020. You can find all of the wonderful information relating to the campaign here, including some inspiring stories and useful resources.
The Mental Health Foundation is part of the national mental health response during the coronavirus outbreak. Government advice designed to keep us safe is under constant review and will be different depending on where you live: more details and up to date information here.