Friendships, lock down and looking after your mental health

26th May 2020

Mental health and Friendships

I read a highly informative piece in the Daily Telegraph on Saturday 23rd May.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/family/relationships/friendship-audit-have-found-real-friends-lockdown/

This really got me thinking about how everyone is feeling:

I really enjoyed the piece written in the Daily Telegraph as it gave a lot of insight to many of the problems we are all facing during covid19 and often when people become unwell their whole world changes often for a period of time but in some cases, for the rest of their lives.

Friendship is one of those things, it can make or break a relationship.

Friendships will get many people through these times, but it needs managing. I said to my friend the other day. “I keep sending you pictures’ because what can I say? The past 8 weeks have torn my routine apart and I feel locked up in my own home. You walk out and everyone treats you like a leaper. What do I really have of interest to say to anyone now?”

The first week the lock down happened it was a flurry of Whats App, emails, and messages’ but it has slowly drifted away, and it could make people feel lonely. You almost begin to resent the people who still have their jobs, salary and all that goes with it. But it is irrational behaviour to feel this way and we need to be all kind to one another. One friend told me how great it is that they are furloughed getting 100% pay, no train fares and for once in their life it has been good to get up late, do some chores and get out for exercise whenever they wanted. I really do not think they realised how this came over to me and the conversation ended with “I hope this carries on being furloughed...” I listened intently and replied “I lost my job and have been without my salary for 8 weeks” a moment of silence, I proceeded to add “and many others not only have lost their jobs but businesses as well it's not all good and frankly quiet worrying as the longer furloughing goes on the longer many will have no work.” furloughing may carry on but many more businesses will not survive and will close causing less jobs around. Working from home can be a novelty but it can be very isolating over time.

This will not break our friendship, but I really do think this can be testing times for everyone in one way or another. It is important to take steps to manage friendships and maintain them.

The first way to help is:

#be kind

Think about what the other person is going through. Yes, maybe they are relieved that the awful journeys are over, and life now is good. That is fine and you can be pleased for your friend.

If you are having a hard time a true friend will talk and listen to you and offer some support.

Ways to help:

If you do not have a lot to say, then post something positive you have seen. It maybe whilst walking, a picture of something you have seen bird, flower, even getting your favourite take away coffee. You can add a text with a smiley, try to find positive things. Its OK to be true to yourself if your feeling low but it can put a strain on friendships if that is all your conversation is about.

Get back into a routine:

Start getting up at your normal time in the morning and have a list of things you would like to achieve that day. Good idea to make this list at night so you have a purpose to get up.

Achieving your list:

Tick off what you have achieved and then move incomplete jobs to the next day, this will give you something to tell your friends when you next speak to them, doesn’t have to be anything major can be clearing out the cupboards, planting some seeds, or made something from scratch. It means you can join in a conversation rather than having nothing to say.

Keep a busy mind.

I have signed up to some courses, there are many free courses available and one I recently took was a short course that I found through the open university. I enjoyed the short course so much that I spoke to everyone about it. In fact, another friend started a course with them due to my conversation . Inspirational.

https://www.open.edu/openlearn/languages/free-courses

https://www.linkedin.com/learning/Online-Training

Exercise is great.

Not only does keeping yourself active keep you fit physically but also mentally, so set small reachable challenges’ and you will feel so much better in more ways than one. Again, there are so many free fitness programmes’ now or just simply go outside for a walk, cycle or run – all for free. Fitness guru Joe Wicks has uploaded a series of programmes from beginner to advanced for all ages onto his YouTube account which is free and available to anyone.

Not every day.

You do not normally speak every day to every friend so try to leave it a day or two and then you can feed back to each other on what you have got up to.

It is important to value friendships from both sides so listen when people need assurances, inform when they may not have been sensitive to your situation. When you speak enquire how their time has been and offer positivity as well as your concerns. It is the old saying when people ask how you are, often they just want you to say “fine.” Now is the time to be kind to one another and invest in your friendship in a way that will help both of you get through these difficult times. Most people will see changes in their lives even when we come out of this but let us hope our good friends remain and we will have our better times with each other once again.

About us:

I have helped smaller charities with supporting their clients returning to work. Much of the work is about confidence building, motivation and getting back to work preparation. Today the reason maybe different but the challenges we face to get back to routine and normality are the same. If you would like to support your staff, please contact us

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