Wellcome Trust Centre For Mitochondrial Research

Coronavirus: psychology update for Mental Health Awareness Week

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Coronavirus: latest psychological advice for patients and families with mitochondrial disease (19th May 2020)

We are in the middle of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week), and the theme this year is ‘kindness’. With that in mind, we thought that this week we would focus on this theme, and why it is very important during the COVID-19 pandemic but also in our everyday lives.

We know that kindness and compassion have clear benefits for our physical and emotional wellbeing, including reducing feelings of stress (Curry et al., 2018). But it can feel really hard to be kind to others when we feel stressed out or angry, or even kind to ourselves during periods of feeling lost, confused or anxious. Many of the updates we’ve shared so far have tried to foster a sense of kindness by recognising that you may be feeling lots of different difficult emotions as a result of COVID-19. Below are a number of recommendations for being kind to yourself and others, but it’s also important to remember that by taking the time to read this update, you are in your very behaviour taking time to be kind to yourself and to focus on your health and wellbeing.

When living with a long-term health condition, it can be particularly important that we are first kind to ourselves; we can only help others if we are physically and psychologically able to in the first place. It’s important that you give yourself permission to take this time out for yourself.

The following recommendations are taken from the above website. Please visit this website for other resources and guidance on how you can support yourself and others during Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond.

 

Acts of Kindness

At home and in your community  

  • Call a friend who you haven’t spoken to for a while
  • Post a card or letter to someone you are out of touch with
  • Find out if a neighbour needs any help (but be mindful of the current shielding guidelines – we can still connect at a physical distance)
  • Ring someone who is on their own, or video call them
  • Send someone a handwritten thank you note
  • Tell your family how much you love and appreciate them
  • Help with household chores if you can
  • Check on someone you know who is going through a tough time

 

At work  

  • Remember to say hi to colleagues and ask how they are – whether that’s face-to-face, or virtually if you are working from home
  • Offer to support colleagues who may not be familiar with videoconferencing or new software that you have already used
  • Set up a virtual coffee/lunch club – with your regular colleagues and with new ones
  • Have a conversation with a colleague you don’t normally talk to
  • Get to know a new member of staff – it is hard to join a new workplace under these restrictions
  • Lend your ear – listen to your colleague who is having a bad day
  • Say thank you to a colleague who has helped you
  • Praise a colleague for something they have done well

 

On social media  

  • Take time to reach out online to people you haven’t seen for a while
  • Write something nice or encouraging on a post you appreciate
  • Acknowledge and validate someone’s story – if they are having a difficult time you don’t have to have all the answers, sometimes a like or a brief ‘I’m sorry to hear this, is there something I can do?’ is enough to make them feel heard
  • Think about what you share – look at the source of the post, and the tone. If it isn’t kind, think twice. If something could upset others and you feel you need to post it, use a trigger or content warning
  • Think about your comments and replies. Try not to say nasty things, or pile on where somebody questions another person’s actions

 

Finally, if you aren’t already familiar with the work of Charlie Mackesy (https://www.charliemackesy.com), we recommend you look for his artwork or follow his social media accounts. He posts some very thoughtful and visually stunning material that we hope will focus you into the theme of ‘kindness’. Below is an example of his work. We hope you enjoy it and, if you can, take a moment (right now) to practice some kindness to yourself or others.

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