Wellbeing Matters: not forgetting to live

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Wellbeing Matters is the part of the site where we stop for a bit and chatter about mental health and how we’re all doing – and this week, about the challenges of 2020.

Hello and welcome to Wellbeing Matters Pull up a chair, and have a think about where we are in the world right now.

2020 so far has been a bin fire of a year. Somebody, somewhere, opened up a box marked Pandora, and allowed all those little demons to spill out into every corner of the globe, to torment, inflame and incinerate everyday life.

There’s an endless soundtrack of sorrow to each new day. Horrific facts have become almost mundane. Figures change, increase every day, but there’s a numbness to it all now, a longing for the reset button to be hit and the counter returned to zero. Which will never happen.

From a grand scale, to the individual, every life is touched by world events. By pandemic and catastrophe, by intimidation, restriction and prejudice. The right to individual freedoms is hotly debated, the rights and wrongs and moral dilemmas of negotiating every day society are rewritten daily.

It’s confusing, exhausting, and all we can seek to do as individuals is our best. To move in a collective spirit for good. We’ve been pretty decent at it overall since lockdown was first imposed as this awful virus engulfs our globe.

Let’s go back to exhaustion. Because it is exhausting to live through. To keep to the rules, not to bend them. Or, as the Scottish government put it, not to kill granny. No one wants to kill granny. But we do want that sense of normality, of prosperity. A world in which an activity as mundane as dropping your child off at school doesn’t come laden with a dose of fear. We want a world where every activity doesn’t start from a baseline of fear.

We can’t reboot 2020. We can only live through it. Measure our own personal risks and mitigate them as best we can. Horizons and prospects may have shrunk, but there are small compensations. Many people have reconnected with their own spaces, creating havens in their homes where they are able. Re-evaluated their relationships with the people around them.

Limits have been stretched, buttons pushed, tolerance twisted. Hair triggers sprung by something as stupid as trying to order the right colour paint from a DIY website. When is blue not blue, but smoky grey? When filtered through a laptop screen.

And that’s life at the moment, filtered through the lens of social media, news outlets and the limitations of our personal spaces. In looking at the minutiae, we sometimes forget to look to the horizon.

2020 may leave an indelible watermark on our souls. As Buffy says to Dawn, when facing an impossible choice, “The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it. Be brave. Live.” *

Amid the fear and exhaustion of current days, don’t forget to live. Continue to look for the good. To feel the sun on your face, enjoy a quiet moment outside. Think about the small pleasures found during lockdown. Enjoy small achievements, those sweet moments of reconnection with loved ones. A gin and tonic at sunset, an old book re-read like an old friend. Acknowledge the hard stuff, and deal with it as best you can. There is only one way of coping, and that’s your own.

Take care, and thanks as always for reading.

*Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Gift. Season 5, episode 22


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