Coffee lounge
If this is your first visit, check out the community guide. You will have to Join us or Sign in before you can post.

MENTAL HEALTH & COVID19 ARTICLE

mia97mia97 Member Posts: 23 Courageous
edited May 2020 in Coffee lounge

This is an article which I wrote on behalf of an organisation, I have not been part of the SCOPE online community very long, but from what I have seen so far, I think this article will help people. Enjoy reading and feel free to leave any comments - I am happy to talk to people and look forward to getting to know new people👍

As you will be aware, currently in the UK we are in the middle of a crisis, regarding to COVID-19 and it is a stressful time for everyone, especially those who are on the Autistic Spectrum, have mental health issues or any other learning difficulties. However, I hope that after reading my article, you feel less anxious and view the situation in the UK (and worldwide) with a balanced and realistic approach.

Firstly, an introduction to me; I am 22 years old and have an autistic spectrum disorder, Aspergers. I first started working with my advocate when I was 17 years old, who supported me through the transition from college to university. Since then, I have gone through university and over the last year started an IT apprenticeship with the rail industry.

Since the breakout of COVID-19, I am very lucky to be able to continue working from home, something which I never take for granted, as I know some people have lost their jobs or are struggling to create an income through these difficult times. It took me about a week to adapt to working from home, the new routine and other normal challenges I face. If you are finding it tough working from home or being restricted to the house for extended amounts of times, here are some of my top tips and things I have found beneficial so far;

As we all know, those on the spectrum work best with a routine and find it difficult to cope with changes. During this time, there will be with no doubt a change of routine for everyone, but instead of seeing this as a challenge, approach it openly and take the chance to create a new routine, one which will help you cope with day-to-day life at home. I have made sure to start the day with good breakfast, take breaks throughout the day and ensure that I am getting a good amount of sleep. I have discovered that by maintaining this foundation of a routine, it has helped me stay focussed throughout the whole day, enabling me to complete work-related tasks, as well as any other personal tasks I have put in place. Another tip I have, if you are working from home, is to make sure that you have a solid working-space, such as a desk or a study. Calm, clear space results in a calm and clear mind hence maximising your productivity! 

Some days may seem longer than others and more tiring but think about all the spare time you have been given. For example, I now save 2 hours from not travelling to and from work every day. This means a longer lie-in in the mornings and extra time in the evenings to spend with my family. I hope that everyone stays safe during these uncertain times and I encourage you to make the most of the days. I understand that being restricted to your home can become difficult at times but, the way I look at the situation is I now have the opportunity to revisit old hobbies, spend time with family (and pets) and progress with ongoing projects; all of which I would not usually have the time to dedicate to during the normal busy day-to-day life. There are endless videos on YouTube which can teach you a new skill (including music, sports, DIY, baking and lots more!), many mobile applications focussing on mental health, as well as the obvious choice of Netflix/ Disney+. Whilst at home try to do things which will benefit your physical health, mental health and well-being – ensuring that you as a whole are looking after yourself. I have used my spare time to re-learn the piano, train my dog, learn new skills via YouTube and apps, watch Netflix series/films and re-organise my belongings.

By no means am I an expert or health professional, but my thoughts about COVID 19 and the impact it is having on the UK are as follows;

The situation which the UK is in currently cannot be ignored and it is what it is. However, the way which society responds to it is vital and will make all the difference, in the long-term. It is during such times where it is more important than ever that we look out for each other and be more kind and considerate towards one another. In my opinion, the only way this country is going to get through the next few months is if we all work together, (remotely – social distancing remember!), and follow the advice of the government, the news and others who are trying to help us. We are very lucky to have the NHS available in the UK and the least we can do is abide by the government guidelines to release pressure off the services, enabling them to deal with those who truly need  the medical attention. Over this time, you will constantly hear about COVID19 and the updates on the news channels, internet articles, newspapers and Social Media; this can become very overwhelming at times – I know I have had enough of hearing constantly about it! Be careful about what you read on Social Media and websites as there is no guarantee that the information is 100% accurate, so try not to become paranoid about everything you read/hear. I have observed that through the media they are primarily focussing on the negative statistics regarding COVID19, by all means which should not be ignoring lightly, but remember there are just as many positive outcomes; such as the number of people who have recovered from symptoms or the virus. It is vital that we remember this information too because it will enable society to keep a balanced approach/opinion about this pandemic, as well as providing a light at the end of the tunnel, which at times may seem a long way off.

Looking forward into the future, I hope that the UK and government can get through the worst stages of the pandemic and then continue to support everyone with adapting back to a new normal everyday life. However, I do expect there will be some changes, both minor and major which will help prevent a societal issue like COVID19 from happening again any time soon (hopefully never!). Hopefully during this pandemic, people, the government and UK as a whole have learnt a lot from this experience and will remember how we approached the situation, preparing us better for any future crisis. I do think that, hopefully, people will appreciate what they have more and take more care of the environment and what is around us. For instance, whilst there have been a significant reduced number of vehicles on the road, air pollution in certain parts of the UK has decreased – this is great for the environment! As the weeks pass by, statistics like this will continue to be produced and it will be really interesting to see what else changes environmentally and hopefully when society goes back to normal (as we know it), we can maintain this and think more about the impact which humans are having on earth.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article and I hope it has helped you, answered some of your questions perhaps or in general just reduced your anxiety about everything. It is very easy to become overwhelmed by all the information which the media is providing us with, but if you focus your energy on something positive, this will definitely help you get through the next 12 weeks (and any time after that) – Set yourself some new goals/targets and see what you can achieve in this time frame, you will be pleasantly surprised. I hope everyone stays well and safe during this time and remember together, with the support of family, friends, charities, the NHS and companies such as SCOPE, we WILL get through this! ☮️&❤️

Replies

  • mia97mia97 Member Posts: 23 Courageous

    This an article I wrote about Mental Health Awareness Week (I know I am posting this a little late) but again, I am hoping it will help some people👍 if anyone has any comments or would like to walk, by all means go ahead and I look forward to talking to new people

    May 18th to May 24th was Mental Health Awareness Week and according to the Mental Health Foundation, this year’s theme was kindness. I am sure many of you will agree that now is a time to be kind to others more than ever before. Lots of us are faced with mental health challenges everyday, whether it be in the form of anxiety, depression, OCD, ADHD, Autism, or the challenges of day to day life, as well as many others which exist but it is the way which we deal with these challenges which makes all the difference.

    The power of our minds can be a blessing and curse in disguise as there is a fine line between positive and negative thoughts, but it is about being in control of our thoughts and using them to our advantage. Life isn’t always perfect, it throws all sorts at us, sometimes at the most unexpected times but the way which we deal with the situation can change the final outcome; you are in control and sometimes we make the wrong decisions but as long as we face the consequences, rather than running away, usually we come out on top. I for one, know that this is not always easy and is much easier said than done but I have learnt that a good start is being able to recognise you need help and accepting it from those around you.

    Those who know me well, know that I will work and work until I finally reach breaking point because I find it difficult to cope with out the routine of working , as well enjoying what I do, but at the end of last week, I eventually realised that my mental health was telling me I needed a break. Initially I did not like the idea of taking time off work because this again means there is a change in my daily routine but after lots of support from friends, family and colleagues, I realised this was the best solution. I enjoy working from home as it allows me to spend more time with my family (and my dog) but it definitely makes it more difficult to step away from work, increasing the risk of ‘overworking’ until it puts pressure on your health. Just to remind people, lots of us are in the same situation and currently working from home, it is okay to take regular breaks, modify your working hours and please do put your health first – if you do not have your health, nothing is worthwhile. I am sure that one of your employers’ priorities is their employees’ health and if this means taking time off work and stepping away, so be it.

    Something which makes a huge difference to the way people feel is the basic acts of kindness which others show, despite how big or small this may be. In today’s world it is so easy to get wrapped up in social media and portray this false image of being ‘happy’ and living our ‘best life’ but this not always the case.  For example, in the photos of me and my family, I look really positive but in reality, and on many occasions recently, this is not a true reflection of my day. No-one should feel pressured to feel 100% happy all of time, this is impossible, unrealistic and eventually will start to exhaust you – the idea of having to keep up this ‘act’ for extended periods of time. Our body and mind need times to step-back, feel down, be emotional and finally recover, coming back better and stronger! Listen to the signals your body is sending you that you may be struggling, before things escalate further. At the end of the day, we can only do our best and sometimes this is not enough, doesn’t always work out or please others but if you know in your heart you did all you could, don’t worry, try again the next day.

    I know I will be one of many when I say that the last few months have been really difficult at times, emotionally, mentally and physically; this huge change in day to day routine, day to day life and all the new aspects definitely took me a long time to adapt to, and in some ways I am still adapting but something which has helped me get through is the consistent communication with my friends and family. During times like this, and in general, I encourage you to reach out to your friends and family, perhaps the ones we don’t speak to very often and check that they are okay. Unfortunately, many people tend to ‘suffer’ in silence and just a simple message from you could make all the difference that day. Remember that it is okay to ask for help and to admit you are struggling – this has taken me many years to realise this and sometimes need reminding but being aware of this simple fact is a good starting point. Asking for help is the first step of many on the road to success or improving your mental/physical health.

    ☮️&❤️

  • Chloe_ScopeChloe_Scope Scope Posts: 10,653 Disability Gamechanger
    Hi @mia97 thank you so much for taking the time to share these with us! Some great advice and I'm sure it will be helpful to members!

    If you ever want to write a piece for the community then please email [email protected] and we can discuss ideas. :) No pressure though!
    Scope

  • Adrian_ScopeAdrian_Scope Testing team Posts: 8,001

    Scope community team

    Some very interesting pieces @mia97. Thank you for posting!
    Community Manager
    Scope
  • mia97mia97 Member Posts: 23 Courageous
    @Chloe_Scope
    @Adrian_Scope

    Hi both, thank you for taking the time to read through the articles. I enjoy writing these, as they help me and others. If I have any thoughts of other articles, I will let you know. However, I only tend to write these when I feel like it - this way what I write comes naturally, as opposed to being forced. Currently I am off work as I have been struggling with my own mental health but should be back at work on Monday👍any future articles I do write, for work or myself, I will consider posting them on here or emailing them for the SCOPE community. Have a great day!
Sign in or join us to comment.