This World Mental Health Day, how could we not reflect on the last few months? This year has challenged each and every one of us in some way, and taking care of our mental health has had to be a focus for everyone. Self care has been a necessary means to survival in this “new normal”.
For those of us who have been fortunate to be in good health, but stuck at home through lockdown, we found a way of leaning into this, seeing this time as a chance to take up new hobbies. Whether it was learning a new language or doing an online course, new goals were being set left, right and centre. The competition stakes were high on social media too, with many of us seeing people like Julie down the road playing Chopin by mid-May…so why couldn’t we even complete that puzzle that’s been on the table for weeks?
What is it they say about the best laid plans? Well, the Onclick team were no strangers to making these declarations either. On World Mental Health Day we want to celebrate our successes AND our failures over the last few months. Though we may have veered off course at points along the way it’s shown us what we are capable of, and how we can best look after our mental health when things are challenging.
The ultimate lesson we have learned is that we have to be kind to ourselves and allow for some failures as we finely tune what works best for us.
Here’s some of the highs and lows we’ve had trying to take care of ourselves in 2020…
Mark – Creative Designer
(Mark helpfully graded each of his pursuits so we can see how well he thinks he’s done!)
1. 3-5mile runs every 2 days – B+
The plan was to increase the distance as the year has progressed, but other than the odd longer run on weekends, average distances have been around the 3.5 mile mark.
2. Listen to a new album everyday – B
It started off well with Talking Heads, The Clash, BC Camplight, Tyler the Creator and Denzel Curry being particular highlights. But, enthusiasm has waned somewhat in recent months.
3. Teach myself how to draw – D
Started well also, with a daily doodle completed after work whilst listening to music. This hobby died quickly however when the hot tub arrived in late June!
4. Be a better cook – C+ (Kitchen still intact)
I’ve managed to use our home grown produce to bake a few Lemon and Courgette loafs, as well as an Apple pie, and a few fakeaways (Wagamamas Katsu Curry being particular success).
5. Quit caffeine – B (so far)
WFH has increased my coffee consumption which has also effected my sleep. 17 days into quitting caffeine and I’m feeling much better for it. Chai tea is the way forward.
6. Increase vinyl collection – A (or F if judging via bank balance)
The plan was to buy 1 classic vinyl album per month, preferably only from Independent record stores (such and Banquet or Resident) rather than big online retailers. I may have got a little carried away on occasion…
Kat – Digital Learning Director
1. Playing the violin – FAILURE
Lockdown seemed like a great opportunity to get started on finally learning to play the violin; a beautiful gift from a few years back that has been patiently awaiting my attention! I probably got a few days into YouTube video tutorials before I gave up trying to tune the damn thing. A friend of a friend kindly helped get it all sorted for me, but now it is once again patiently awaiting my next spurt of creativity. I have a feeling that the winter months in lockdown will be the perfect time for some sombre violin tunes. Plus the neighbours’ windows will all be shut tight!
2. Podcasts – SUCCESS
Making sure you get out into the fresh air is essential when cooped up, working from home. Never more have I craved a change of scenery from my home office, with a daily walk in the fields. Walking alone can be pretty dull though, so I have started exploring some cool podcasts for company; a medium I have rarely used in the past. It has worked a treat and spurred me to get out… even in the pouring rain.
Favourites so far have included the Dawn O’Porter ‘Get it On’ series; a hilarious chat show about style, exploring what the way we dress says to others and featuring some great guests, including Jason Segal, Aisling Bea and Caroline Flack. Also, Sara Pascoe’s ‘Sex Power Money’; a series of insightful interviews with sex workers, strippers and the porn industry, exploring the history and stigma within today’s culture. All a bit random, but you learn a lot and boost your step count at the same time!
3. Home Hair Cutting – SUCCESS
I’ve not been to the hairdressers since Valentines Day and miss it dreadfully. It’s been a while since I used to cut my own hair as a poor student with a pair of kitchen scissors, but I thought I’d revisit my youth and have been honing my home hairdressing skills. I now have a hefty client list of ’socially bubbled’ family and friends, most of which I am pleased to say are pretty happy with their home hair dos. Cutting my own though is a pretty messy and complicated affair, trying to cut layers practically blind, double the distance from the mirror and back to front. It’s really asking for trouble.
4. Les Mills On Demand – SUCCESS
OMG this is my new favourite app ever and has completely fulfilled my lack of gym action. Les Mills On Demand has thousands of video sessions for the whole Les Mills franchise range with awesome tutors that pump you up good. My faves are definitely ‘Body Combat’ for a mixed martial art sweat, and ‘Body Balance’ for some zen, stretching and core. Both of these I previously attended as live classes, so there’s a real friendly familiarity to it that grabs you immediately. Plus it’s a fraction of the price of a proper gym membership… hmm, not sure if I will be going back.
Amy – Digital Learning Developer
1. Losing weight – SUCCESS
I started in mid August and it has so far been a success – I’ve lost 5lbs!
I’ve achieved this through eating healthier, drinking less alcohol and doing more exercise.
2. Walking – SUCCESS
My aim at the beginning of lockdown to help with my mental health was to go on more walks around different areas. I’ve been making the most of living on the door step of two beautiful parks where there are so many different routes you can take, each time you feel like you’re walking in a different area all together!
Having that space has definitely helped with clearing my head and feeling more like my happy self.
3. Video-gaming – SUCCESS
I’ve never really been one for video-gaming, however my aim in recent months was to find a new hobby. After a ton of searching…. I finally found The One – ‘No Man’s Sky’! I am now fully addicted, so this does make it very hard to get myself to go for walks as I’m always just itching to play the game instead!
4. Lego – SUCCESS
I found another (fairly expensive) hobby with building lego. I’m a big fan of space so I went for a star wars theme! This has provided me with the downtime I’ve needed to emerse myself into something creative for a couple of hours.
5. Cooking – SUCCESS
I have never been one to really get into cooking and enjoy it but having to go on a diet meant I have to be a lot more vigilant about what I’m eating. From cooking a few dishes myself I found that I was actually starting to enjoy the process of prepping, timing and cooking my meals – I’m really appreciating the food a lot more! (Not sure how long this will last though!)
6. Cross stitch – FAILURE
In my attempt to get creative I thought I would give cross-stitching a go… Well, safe to say that didn’t take and I only ended up doing a small fraction of the design (which has now not been touched for about 4 months).
Luci – Digital Content Coordinator
1. Pom pomming – SUCCESS
I was once gifted an AMAZING pom pom hairband for a festival and I’ve always thought I’d love to make my own. I got myself some materials – started off with a homemade pom pom maker, and have since progressed to some more serious pieces of equipment. I’ve made hairbands, earrings, a cloud to hang above my neices’ crib, some keyrings. It’s a really mindful process, and it brings a sense of achievement seeing the final outcome!
2. Running – SUCCESS
I decided now was the time to channel my inner Paula Radcliff and get running. I ran a half marathon a few years ago but have never quite reached those lofty heights since. I’m using the Couch to 5k app, and Jo Whiley has been motivating me to keep going. I’ve loved getting outside, exploring the city, and closing my mind off to all thoughts other than the music/podcast and putting one foot in front of the other.
3. French – FAILURE
The fact I don’t know the word for “Failure” in French perhaps shows how far I got down the track with this ambition. The book/app combo I was using suggested 15 min learning time a day – how could I not manage that? Well, quite – How have I not managed that? I’m disappointed I haven’t kept it up but it wasn’t sparking joy, so it’s on halt for now.
4. Hair dressing – FAILURE
I have a fringe, so had to get to grips with trimming that so i could continue to see through lockdown! I got pretty good – or so my instagram followers told me. When I came home to my housemate in distress because he’d over clipped the back of his hair, I said “Don’t worry, I’ve got this. I genuinely think hairdressing could be my thing”. Well reader, it is not my thing. He had flesh exposed that hadn’t seen sunlight since birth. Thankfully his hair has grown back in and it now just makes a good anecdote!