The Power of Small – Time to Talk 2021
Time to Talk Day is looking significantly different this year. Being a year into a once-in-a-century pandemic, in the middle of lockdown 3.0, we’re all feeling reasonably fatigued. However, this might be one of the most pivotal moments to start the conversation surrounding mental health. This year on 4th February, Time to Talk Day is themed around ‘the power of small’, because even a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference, and in a time of certain uncertainty, communication is key.
It has been interesting to juxtapose the fact that 1 in 3 people are asymptomatic and so could be unknowingly spreading the virus and suggestion that 1 in 4 people are experiencing mental health issues at this current moment. In both cases, the illness is invisible. I’ve thought of mental illness as its own kind of pandemic from time to time. Something we need to talk about more, like Covid. Especially during this time as we fall into a communication-fatigue. We have been on high-alert for a year, the idea of joining a non-compulsory catch-up let alone another zoom webinar is daunting. This decline in communication has detrimental implications on our mental wellbeing.
The theme ‘the power of small’ is an interesting one this year. The world has evolved considerably in the last 12 months and events like Time to Talk Day seem forever changed. I have collated thoughts of several ways to incorporate the ‘power of small’ theme into taking care of your own mental health and watching over those around you while we weather the storm together.
1. Ask Twice
Time to Change has a brilliant campaign surrounding the idea of #AskTwice. Sometimes we say we are fine when we’re not. It is important to dedicate time to making sure that those around you are doing okay. This is the same for you, if you are not feeling good, speak up, mention it to a colleague you’re comfortable with. Take a coffee break to discuss how you’re getting on rather than what deadlines are coming up.
Try asking open-ended questions to better gage how your family, friends and colleagues are feeling. What’s on your mind right now? How can I support you this week? What are you looking forward to?
If there is something you find helpful, make it a non-negotiable part of your day. However small that is. It might be helpful to set up a non-negotiable, non-work related chat with a colleague. A non-negotiable lunch hour, maybe a non-negotiable third or fourth coffee.
3. Attitude of gratitude
For me, it has been beneficial to adopt an attitude of gratitude when it has come to daily life. I’ve started a gratitude journal using an app to record what I’m feeling grateful for at any given moment. This has really helped me slow down and appreciate things I probably took for granted before the pandemic. Being grateful for your favourite cosy socks being fresh out the wash for a Monday morning might be one of them.
In uncertain times, it helps if we can learn to appreciate smaller things.
4. Acknowledge the small wins
I think given the post-modern, digitalised world we live in, it’s often hard to appreciate the detrimental effects the pandemic is having on our wellbeing. Mental health is undoubtedly perpetual, without the interference of a global, pandemic in the mix. So it is important to acknowledge small goals being achieved, for our own sense of purpose. Whether that is taking a breath at the end of the day being proud you finally did that laundry, or you completed an urgent deadline, it’s all imperative to our mental wellbeing.
5. Recognise the times
Relatively familiar to acknowledging your achievements. It also helps to put your actions into perspective. Although you might have simply gone for a walk, had a shower or even just got out of bed. You have done so in the middle of an incessant lockdown. It is impossible to fathom how hard that would be for the average person in today’s world. But considering 1 in 4 of us are struggling already, that is a definitive achievement.
6. Stay connected
The colder, darker months have made it easy to go into ‘hibernation mode’. The sun isn’t out, the virus is, so I shouldn’t be. While zoom-fatigue has made us utterly sick at the thought of another pub quiz, even just a team coffee every week, a check in with a friend on your lunch break, maybe a call to an elderly relative after work. Connecting with others is something innately human about us and connecting with those around you will have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing.
7. Be outside
The implications of a lockdown in GMT is the lack of daylight hours, making it a lot harder for us to get outside and engage in outdoor activities, especially around work. If it is possible for you to get outside each day, it’s a great idea to do so. Whether that is taking on the concept of the fake commute and walking to the local coffee shop and back, or a morning run, it will boost your mood and have you ready for the day. That being said, it can be difficult when you aren’t feeling at your best to force yourself out of bed any earlier than necessary, and the dark cold evenings aren’t appealing either. Bringing the nature to you can also be beneficial, even just hanging a bird feeder outside your window can be beneficial when you’re feeling isolated.
8. Manage your media
The news isn’t always a good idea. That might be obvious for many reasons but something that might be helpful is controlling the amount of information you are taking in. While it is important to remain knowledgeable and aware of what is going on, there is a risk of being overwhelmed and many find news outlets and apps triggering when it comes to anxiety and feelings of uncertainty. If this is something you struggle with, it can be helpful to steer clear of apps that are bringing up these feelings. While feeling overwhelmed by sadness and fear in these times, it is counter-productive to worsen these feelings.
The most pivotal part of the next lockdown is self-care. Whether that is ensuring you dedicate an amount of time in your day to your favourite hobby, start a new project or even just spend some time watching light-hearted TikToks, you have to unapologetically give yourself the time to be. It is normal to try to keep ourselves busy with tasks in order to get through the times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be kept busy with tasks for ourselves, which our brains will be grateful for.
All in all, however basic a routine might be, it is good to be in one. This can help you feel accomplished when it comes to the end of the day. Helps you target your energy into where it is needed. It will improve your sleep and give you a sense of normality, which is something we haven’t seen since ’19. Ensure your routine includes things you enjoy and change things up regularly where you can.
The power of small has a huge influence on our mental wellbeing. Whether that is dropping a note to a friend to let them know they’re appreciated and that you are there, or if it is that accomplishment you feel writing your list of tasks and goals and ticking them off as you go. Engaging in the small things allows your brain to rest in the moment and be present.
It is important to remember that each day is an achievement in itself in these times. Whether you have built a new garden shed, finally organised ‘the drawer’ or finally watched that series everyone has been recommending, tick it off. That’s enough.
Join the conversation here on Spiela, and remember that a small conversation about mental health has the power to make a big difference! To find out more about #TimeToTalkDay, take a look at their website!