For people stuck indoors for weeks on end, in cities without easy access to nature and open spaces, an emotional strain is unavoidable. For those with existing mental health challenges, it’s harder to imagine a worse event. Survey after survey has shown the massive increase in levels of anxiety and depression.
Although we have vaccines on the horizon, the gloom of the winter months can make it feel like we are in an even worse situation now than back in the first lockdown last year. But on the final stretch, we have to find a way to stay healthy, mentally and physically, and we have to help each other to stay upbeat when we struggle.
I am only too aware that many have not been as fortunate as me. I count myself extremely lucky in having had a distraction, and I don’t just mean my children – as any parents know, that’s a whole other topic! – but I’ve been able to keep busy turning my long-held vision into reality. Keeping plates spinning at The Good Plot and Ewhurst Park has helped to keep my energy levels up, while finding time to look after the kids and manage my own mental health.
Looking for ways to stay physically and mentally fit, I have found myself increasingly turning to Pilates and exercises in mindfulness. This is something I have done to some extent for years, but it’s inevitably taken on a renewed importance for me in this period. In my youth I was a ballet dancer, so combining this with other physical and mental practices to create my own routines has been an approach that has worked really well for me. Others may find that working out, trying Zumba, or practising Yoga is the best fit for them, or even just a walk around the block.
Finding a passion or hobby to provide an emotional outlet during a difficult time can be just as fulfilling – and effective – as anything else. It won’t surprise anyone reading this that one of my main joys is cooking with my family, and this is something I’ve been able to explore to my heart’s content over the past year. Finding that one moment in a day to bring a smile to your face, or someone else, can make all the difference.
Something I am exploring with The Good Plot, my wholefood kitchen in Notting Hill, is how we can support our community by offering activities, bitesize lifestyle tips and content to help our customers through lockdown.
I know that while this has worked for me, it won’t solve things for everyone, especially those who face serious mental or physical health challenges. For many families, the problems posed by lockdown are piled up on top of existing problems, and at times they can feel too much to bear. In the next few weeks I’d like to return to this topic and talk about how we can come together to support some of these families in ways that are close to my heart.
In the next weeks and months, we have to keep encouraging each other, providing support where needed, and staying healthy. When you’re staying at home, sometimes looking after our health is the most important thing we can do.