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During these very challenging times, I am feeling almost compelled to put pen to paper to speak out about the challenges of maintaining our mental health in amongst a world that we can barely recognise with Covid 19.

I have been a Registered Nurse working on the frontline of the NHS for 37 years, and I wouldn’t have changed my career for anything. I have seen some things that have rocked me to the core. I have experienced personal issues in my own life that have stripped me bare and I thought I would never recover, but here I am thankfully still battling another force that appears bigger than us all. I feel that my experience within the healthcare framework has hardened me to a lot of knocks, but fundamentally I have come to realise that everyone has a story of pain and conflict. I constantly remind myself that, despite how low you may feel, there is ALWAYS someone’s pain and suffering that is worse.

A very senior Doctor that I have worked with for years surprised me one day when he told me that he suffers from mental health issues, predominantly anxiety. With fascination, I listened to how he overcame it. This was a colleague who was not only immensely intelligent with a double degree from Oxford University, but an ology in most things in life. He taught me an invaluable lesson. Cope with anxiety /stress by stripping life back to basics. He recalled watching his dog one day when he was in emotional turmoil. He noticed how the dog would always find the area of the room which had the sun shining in, and would go and sit in the warmth and light to make him feel comfort and warmth.

Nothing complex, just basic instinct. A great lesson in basic creature comfort. We come from nature, and in the chaotic progression of life I believe we have forgotten that. We are not built to carry an abundance of stress. We need to look after our emotional, psychological and social well being. Imagine a shopping basket that you are carrying around a store. If you overload it you will struggle to carry it. Only put in your basket what you need. It is the same with your mind. Similarly if you fill your body with unhealthy food, your health will suffer. It is no different with your mind. You should nourish your mind with enriching thoughts and positivity. If you are at a funfair, you can only knock the ducks off one at a time. That’s the nature of the game. Take small steps only to help you cope.

My advise is, in amongst the chaos of abnormality and fear, be kind to yourself. Keep routine up if you can. We are predominantly creatures of habit and this makes us feel secure. Find a moment in your day to make yourself feel good. Put on that perfume or aftershave. Wear a smile. It’s very empowering.

Most importantly, open your heart to someone. A problem shared is a problem halved. To relieve anxiety is to unburden so the scales become more balanced in life. There is no one on this planet who is unaffected by social isolation, so keep the lines of communication connected, whether it be through social media, telephone or good old face to face banter. A good hearty laugh can mend some broken thoughts.

In conclusion, life is amazing and then its awful, then its amazing again.
In between the amazing and the awful, its ordinary and mundane and routine.
Breathe in the amazing,
Hold on through the awful,
Relax during the ordinary.

To feel and care is human. You’ve got this.

Keep your face looking to the sunshine, because soon there will be a rainbow.

Written by Sarah Humphries (ECG, Freelance Trainer & RGN), Tuesday 7th April 2020

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