As we settle into a second lockdown in the UK, we asked our ambassador Amelia to share her thoughts and tips for maintaining good mental health during uncertain times. Many people engage in a daily struggle with their mental wellbeing outside the additional pressures of the current pandemic, so it felt ever more important to ask her to share some of her own experience and coping mechanisms.
“Normal is a setting on a washing machine” Amelia’s mum.
I swear, if I hear one more headline about this disease I may scream. Fear mongering, panic buying, death. The very worst aspects of human existence have been exposed this year. While it seems as though the world is turning inward, trapped and confused, the planet is healing at a remarkable rate. The positive effect of grounded planes, quarantined people and less international movement is doing wonders for our planet, so there is a silver lining.
I have seen a lot of talk about boredom, people ignoring the advice to stay in or at least social distance. I get that, the thought of being kept inside indefinitely fills me with dread. Being outside, active and productive is absolutely key to maintaining my own, often fragile mental health. As a self-employed freelancer, I know I am among many others when I say I that I am anxious and depressed about what the future holds for me and my business.
I think some of the key things to remember during this bizarre time is that no one is alone in this. The entire country (and most of the wider world) is feeling the effect of this virus. The world as we know it has stopped for everyone, with some affects more detrimental than others. It is also key to remember that we will get through this. Whether that be in the preferred days, weeks or even months; it is going to end and the only way we can speed this up is to trust, listen and act on the advice we are being given.
I do want to reiterate that there is no “normal” way to feel. In fact, I think this statement is actually very true for every aspect of life. My mother’s favourite saying is: “Normal is a setting on a washing machine”, which as well as making me laugh, rings very true as I get older.
My first tip is to go easy on yourself. Give yourself time to adjust and settle into working from home, or perhaps not even working at all at the minute. It’s a surreal feeling for a lot of people, and a worrying time for anyone who is self-employed or building their own business. So, go ahead and binge your favourite Netflix series, eat chocolate for breakfast or sit in your pants all day. Whatever makes you feel safe or comfortable in the situation.
Secondly; use this unexpected free time to learn a new skill, or tackle something you’ve been putting aside for months. Maybe its cleaning out your fridge, or sorting your garage, or cleaning out your wardrobe. As for skills, they’re endless! Learn a new language, take up yoga, start working out, watch YouTube tutorials, enrol on an online workshop (Strohl Works is a personal favourite) take up meditation; Headspace is a brilliant app and I have been using it for a few months now (thanks again to my Mother!)
Look toward the future; I get super excited thinking about all the amazing things that will come out of this situation; planning my next trips, writing notes of things I want to achieve as soon as we get back to some normality, searching for destinations I haven’t explored yet, creating mood boards, discovering new creators.
My final, and most important tip; STAY CREATIVE! If (like me) you enjoy photography, step out and work with what you currently have at your disposal. If you live in a city (Londoners I’m looking at you), use your daily exercise to photograph some cityscapes, play with light and take the opportunity to shoot spots that are usually crowded with people. If you live in the countryside, or a village (as I do), head out and shoot portraits with your siblings, dogs, parents – anyone you have to hand! Wake up early, shoot the sunrise, local wildlife. On days that you can’t face heading out, potter around your house, looking for sun traps, little corners that the light hits especially beautifully, take selfies, practice self-timer portraits. Remember in all of this, you’re not looking to shoot the next master piece, or your favourite photo ever, it’s about trying new things and staying stoked.
For those of you less interested in photography, write or blog, try knitting, drawing, painting, singing, creating goofy videos. Anything that occupies your attention and makes you happy, no matter how stupid it may seem.
For me, it’s always been super important to see results from what I have done every day, whether that be photos I want to edit, a fully crossed off to do list or a completed blog post I’ve been putting off.
Remember, there is no normal, and there is no right or wrong.
Stay safe, stay happy.
Photos copyright Amelia Le Brun.
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Felicia is our ‘camera ninja’ when it comes to photography for the Pala website. Hailing from Sweden, but now based close to the Pala Brighton HQ. When she’s not exercising her skills of mind control to makes models relax on shoot you’ll find her gleefully tucking into a tin Surströmming… or maybe not.
Emma is our marketing guru. When Emma isn’t planning, strategizing and creating content, she can be found travelling the world exploring its wonders, or in more recent times – headphones on with a paintbrush in her hand creating an abstract masterpiece!
Mary is the team leader of the Care4basket project in Bolgatanga, Ghana. When Mary is not organising and supporting the work across the communities, you will find her sowing sweet potatoes, ground nut, millet and looking after the animals on the farm.
Izzy is our Sales and Comms mastermind. When Izzy isn’t throwing herself down a mountain on a snowboard, she can normally be found rummaging through vintage shops or pounding the fields with her beloved puppy, Mac. She once mislaid a finger on a night out (eek!) – girl knows how to party!
Justin is our ‘Film Alchemist’. When he’s not laying on the floor looking for the next shot he’s either exploring the finest bourbons and listening to obscure country music tracks from the 50s and 60s. Normally found planning his next trip abroad or fuelling the pineapple on pizza debate. Just so you know he’s firmly in the Hawaiian camp!