“If you can be anything, be kind” To kick start a week of activities for Mental Health Awareness week 2020, our Director of HR, Morna Bunce shares how lockdown has impacted on her, her mental health and how important it is to be kind to yourself and others.
How many times this year have you seen this posted on social media? Probably enough that it has now become a throw-away tag line used by celebrity influencers.
So when the theme for mental health awareness was changed to “kindness” I sighed a little and wondered to myself how to promote kindness without sounding like a social media cliché.
Then I remembered my own social media post from a few months ago when I was struggling with the adjustment to lockdown life:
“I’ve worked out why I’ve been so tearful lately, it’s because I’m not used to all the kindness & generosity that has suddenly appeared. We’ve become so hardened & defensive that when we break that down it becomes overwhelming & now that realisation has made me sad.”
I posted this on my Twitter account on 21st March over eight weeks ago just as we were entering lockdown. I was scared and would cry unexpectedly (and frequently). The whole situation was completely overwhelming and I was totally exhausted. The truth is, it wasn’t the kindness which was making me cry, kindness was going to get me through this. Starting with being kind to myself. It was time to get my running shoes on…
Some of you might think that doesn’t sound very kind, and you would be right. I hadn’t run anywhere since New Year’s Day. Despite being a part of a wonderful running club I had lost my confidence to lace up my trainers and leave the house. I would find any excuse not to.
And it wasn’t just running. I had pretty much been avoiding going out to socialise with anyone other than my immediate family. Messages from concerned friends went unanswered. So when lockdown hit, that should’ve been a relief, I would no longer have to find excuses to turn down invitations. But instead, it hit me like a tonne of bricks. I started having panic attacks where it felt like a ton of bricks were laid on my chest and I was struggling to find my breath.
This couldn’t be right. I was the person who fixed everyone else’s problems, or at least I tried to.
This was just another problem to fix.
So I did yoga, lit candles, baked banana bread, listened to guided meditations, cried buckets, danced in the kitchen, clapped in the street, reached out to friends, dug the garden, chatted with the neighbours and tried to appreciate the extra time at home with Archie before he hopefully starts school later this year (those of you who I regularly video call with will know I don’t’ always find this one easy!!). And I ran.
Basically, I fixed my own oxygen mask so I could then help others with theirs.
And how was I repaid?
With kindness… in bucket loads. The Easter egg for Archie dropped off by a neighbour, the supportive WhatsApp messages and emails from colleagues, the pieces of post from my niece and nephew, the video messages from Archie’s nursery, the treats left on my doorstep by Steph and most overwhelmingly the response of you, the members of this firm.
You have shown yourselves to be resilient, caring, supportive, innovative, conscientious, passionate. All things we already knew and which are captured in the firm’s values:
We have spirit
We achieve together
We want growth.
But above all you, you were kind.