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Allan Judd says exercise and communication is important during lockdown. Photo: TERESA RAMSEY

Look after your mental health

Do you have support? This is a big question that everybody should ask themselves.
Well, what is your support network, do you have friends you can ring and talk to at any time of the day or night? Would you be somebody’s support person? As we are plunged back into a Covid-19 level 4 lockdown around the country, people are forced to relive difficult situations endured under Covid-19 restrictions last year, where people became fragile.
Families are forced to all live together at the same time under the same roof, all wanting to do their own thing in their own way.
“No problem” I hear a lot of you say. Okay, for some it’s not too bad, but for some, it can be enough to tip them over the edge. It’s important to take time to look after each other, it’s even more important to look after yourself during these situations. What are you doing to keep fit, are you doing some form of exercise?
Last year when we were in lock-down, I was set a challenge to do 25 press-ups every day for 25 days. So, this time round, I’m setting the challenge of doing 30 sit-ups every day for 30 days. It’s about giving yourself a challenge each day and a reason to get out of bed every morning.
One of the easiest things that can happen as we start to feel hemmed in around our own home is to hide inside ourselves. So, it’s important that we exercise and communicate with those sitting next to us on the couch.
This I believe is one of the biggest problems we have created for ourselves with these flash new cell phones. People are becoming so busy with themselves online that they have forgotten to care for those sitting next to them on the couch. So, get off your phone and talk to people, ask if they are alright? Are they coping with life?
One of the hardest things to grasp is sometimes that support person will not be the person you are living with. That person who you love and care for may not see the support is needed by you. They will push you away and not give you the support you so desperately crave. The one or two people close to you are often the ones who turn on you at the worst possible time. They find it easier to criticise you and insult your integrity. It is important to know who you can rely on to help when you are feeling a bit down, anxious, depressed or just need some time out to recharge the batteries.
I hope just one person takes the time to read this and turns to the person next to them and asks those two simple questions. Are you alright and are you coping with life? This is not the case in every scenario, sometimes that support person will be your nearest and dearest, but you need to know that before you start to fall off the rails. In most cases you won’t need to worry if you have that constant line of communication open. There have been numerous struggles and sometimes the support you crave is just not there.
I’m starting to see how broken and under-resourced the Mental Health system in this country has become. The struggle to get support and help in this country has become too great for some people.
I can see why mental health educator Mike King has thrown his arms in the air and said enough is enough. We need to be aware of people around us who are not coping as well as they should.
Suicide in this country is out of control, not just our young but the farmers, the shop owners – depression doesn’t care who it comes and gets and if you don’t have the support, you need you spiral out of control and stop communicating with people.
I have seen this first hand when the support you so desperately want deserts you.
I know I struggle with mental health and do all I can to ensure I stay in the right frame of mind.
It’s important to have a plan of how to cope when things start to get a bit tough or you are feeling anxious about some silly little thing. There are some wonderful books and support networks out there. I can recommend former All Black and mental health advocate John Kirwan’s first book Why I Am, a book full of wonderful quotes he used in times of struggle. One of my favourites is “Tough times don’t last, Tough people do”.
So, I challenge you to get off the couch, do some exercise, talk kindly to those around you and pick up the phone and ring somebody who you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Be kind to yourself and be kind to others, you’ll find it goes a long way.