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Leave a Light on for me: Simple things can make such a difference

By Chris Saunderson

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SOMETIMES it is easy to let the bigger picture of life get you down and forget about the simple things that can make such a difference to your mental health.

Leave a light on logo
Leave a light on logo

None of us have had to cope with a global pandemic in our lifetime, and for many the last nine months have been frightening and, even with the prospect of a vaccine, the coronavirus has already caused great harm in terms of people’s health – it has claimed in excess of 50,000 lives already – the economy, with lots of businesses going under and people losing their jobs; and countless people feeling vulnerable, isolated and anxious.

Over the spring and summer months, it was easier for people to cope simply because the weather was better and we had more hours of sunshine available to us – one of life’s natural anti-depressants.

The restrictions on meeting other people indoors – unless you are in a caring bubble – are understandable and necessary to curb the transmission of the virus, but for many people the lack of interaction with others, a basic human function, is one of the hardest aspects of life in a pandemic.

I have had my own challenges to overcome with mental health in recent years, coping with anxiety and depression related to a number of things going on in my life. And it can be so easy to let everything get on top of you and feel hopeless when times are tough.

I have had more ups and downs during the pandemic than a yo-yo player on a rollercoaster, and watching the constant news cycle – despite being part of the news industry – is not always conducive to a positive state of mind. That is when appreciating the simple things in life can carve a path to better mental health.

west beach lossie
west beach lossie

Exercise is undoubtedly the best way to unwind after a difficult day, a hard week at work, or being stuck at home. It can be all too easy to flick that index finger upwards and scroll through social media on your phone or plonk yourself in front of the telly.

I have done that far too often myself and working from home, while it has many advantages, can also become a lonely, introverted existence staring at a computer screen all day.

Stepping out into the garden to breathe in some fresh air is one of the best sceenbreaks you can have, or watching the birds forage for food. I quite often spend five minutes here and there pulling up weeds; not the most riveting of fun but still therapeutic.

Getting out for a walk is another great way to “escape” the confines of home. I am fortunate that I live a short distance from one of the most beautiful beaches you could hope to find anywhere in the world, and I am guilty of not utilising a free, natural resource often enough, but it could just as easily be your local park or around the streets of your local neighbourhood.

I have returned to the swimming pool after seven long months away, and dusted off the golf clubs for the first time in years for a few rounds at my local nine-hole course. I’m no Tiger Woods, but it has been fun and invigorating.

Listening to music is another simple pleasure which provides respite from the “noise” of life in a pandemic.

Best advice of all, if you feel down or overwhelmed, talk to someone, anyone willing to listen.

We can all step out of the darkness together

  • Chris Saunderson is a content editor with The Northern Scot and its sister papers.

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