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Covid - 19: Let's Talk Mental Health

2020 Dockwalk

Well it’s official. The world’s gone nuts… half the planet is on lockdown or headed for it, the conspiracy theorists are having an absolute field day, everyone seems obsessed with overbuying toilet paper and flour, and if you’re looking to give yourself crippling anxiety, just head straight on over to facebook where mis-information, hearsay, blame and gossip is absolutely rife.

Well, we all know the “how to avoid corona virus” rules, we know what we should and shouldn’t be doing, so I’m not here to tell you not to cough into each other’s mouths, or to stop licking windows (which, honestly, you really shouldn’t), I am here however, to offer a little advice on your mental health which might be feeling a bit neglected in the current situation.

It’s very easy right now to feel overwhelmed, anxious, and fearful. Many of us in the yachting industry have been displaced by the virus and we may find ourselves under lockdown in a crew house, in accommodation, or even on board yachts, away from close family and friends. Thankfully we all have internet so make the most of video calling and make sure you keep in touch with loved ones. This is a huge help. And something we should definitely set time aside for instead of interacting just on social media. Facetime calls are the next best thing to real life interaction and really do help the endorphins come out of hiding.

Speaking of internet, being glued to social media sites, especially Facebook, at the moment is quite hard to avoid. But now is the time to be responsible and aware of what you and others are posting. In the past 72 hours groups have popped up all over the place for “updates” in specific locations. I was invited to one, had a look at the content, and promptly left it. It was absolutely full of scaremongering, gossip, and quite frankly a load of rubbish. Groups of these are not helpful for anyone. If you suffer from even a teeny tiny bit of anxiety, groups like this and the people within them, need to be binned off before they put you into a state of panic.

If you find yourself feeling unhappy or stressed by certain connections who won’t stop banging on about conspiracy theories, or those who are demanding that the world is overreacting and that they’ll be “just fine” if they catch Covid 19 (um, hello, what about your ageing poorly grandma you just visited carrying the virus you selfish oaf?), or those who are sharing fake news, or posting gossip, rumours, and generally trying to spread fear, a very good idea is to hit that unfollow button. They won’t be any the wiser, and you can start following them again when you feel ready. Or when they start posting their usual stuff again.  You can also hit the “snooze for 30 days” option. I’ve done this a lot since the weekend. It’s quite liberating. Again, they won’t know. If however, you have balls of steel and fear no reprisals (sadly not many of us can say that in this current age of worrying about what everyone else thinks of us) you could just unfriend them. When something of this scale happens, it’s a great opportunity for a good old Facebook cull in my opinion. And yes I’ve done a bit of that too this week.

Of course, there’s also the option of not checking your Facebook every five minutes or even deleting your account. Please note, if you do this you don’t have to announce it to everyone…. You will look a bit daft when you announce to the world you can’t bear to be on Facebook anymore, goodbye, farewell, inbox me your numbers… and pop up commenting less than 24 hours later.

Please be responsible and think about the content you’re sharing, and things you’re posting. Is it helpful? Is it kind? And very importantly, is it factually checked? This morning in Mallorca we’re hearing lots of rumours about a possible extension to the lockdown. Two dates are being thrown about, pages and groups are seeing lots of “well I heard it from a friend who saw it on Spanish tv” or “my friend told me about it, her sister heard it from…”. Hmm. Sounds legit, I’m sure Daniel’s sister’s bestie’s hairdresser’s dog groomer Sandra has a direct line to Sanchez, the Spanish PM. Before posting about it and asking other equally uninformed people on Facebook groups, why not try the old google machine? It’s pretty darn reliable. A quick search in English and in Spanish, came up with zero results. So if you see something posted with no official source cited, it’s a good idea to fact check it before hitting “share”. And then stay calm. It is what it is, there’s food in the supermarkets, chill out and settle down.

Nobody has the answers right now, we don’t know how long lockdown will continue in Spain, France, or Italy at this stage but I’m pretty sure when changes are announced they will be classed as Breaking News and therefore very easy to find, and verify. And THEN we can deal with it. Stop worrying about what hasn’t happened yet as it might never arise.

So back to Facebook, perhaps limit yourself to following just a few sources for up to date information. Me for example… my pages are set to public at the moment and I am only sharing officially sourced news and updates (and the odd funny, or dog picture, because, well dogs…) for Spain as it comes about. No nonsense, no conjecture, no maybe possibly might be, no bull. Official news channels are helpful to keep an eye on too.

As so many of us are quarantined one way or the other it could be very easy to fall down the rabbit hole of social media, so here are a few tips to try and stay healthy online:

  1. Limit your usage – set aside specific times and time limits, and stick to them. There are even apps out there you can use like Freedom, Moment, ZenScreen etc.

  2. Don’t check social media at bed time. Unless you enjoy insomnia.

  3. Switch off notifications – if you’re finding them hard to deal with, silence them for now.

  4. Set yourself an objective – why are you going on to facebook? Once you achieve it, log off.

  5. Unfollow anyone who makes you feel less than happy. You can refollow later if you wish. Or not.

  6. Follow happy pages like Doggo (ok I love dogs, so what), comedy pages, or if you’re into the spiritual stuff, that sort of thing.

  7. Don’t feed the trolls – is it worth posting a reply on some massive idiot’s angry rant? Is it? Will it make you feel stressed, anxious, unhappy? So don’t bother. We’ve already figured out he’s a massive idiot.

  8. Post and share responsibly – CHECK YOUR SOURCES.

  9. Use it for positive interactions! Message old friends, check in on people, and join positive helpful groups if you wish.

I think it’s important we all try to live in the moment right now, try to focus on positives and what you CAN do as oppose to what you CAN’T. There are heaps of great resources out there for free things to do whilst stuck at home or on a boat, and so many people offering free classes and live sessions on line for all types of exercise from yoga to cross fit. Amazon are still delivering (yay!) so order a board game or card game (I think it’s the perfect time to introduce your friends to Cards Against Humanity), and here in Palma there’s even a wine delivery service. Pick up that dusty guitar in the corner and do online classes, draw a picture, hide from your children, whatever helps!

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, please reach out to someone. You’re not alone, we are all in this together. Take care everyone, and I’ll see you on the other side.

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