Being kind to yourself by Holly Smale

This article was first published on 12 May 2020.

Holly Smale, author of The Valentines and Geek Girl series, tells us why looking after ourselves should be our number one priority during lockdown, and why you don't have to be a superhero at this time... you just need to be kind to yourself!

There’s a lot of pressure during lockdown to make this unexpected and unusual time ‘count’ in some way. To be productive, or creative, and to ‘make the most’ of not having other external pressures or things to occupy us. Maybe there’s a sense that you could exercise lots, learn a language or start writing a book... something to make this time not ‘wasted.’ If those things help to alleviate boredom or give you something to focus on and help your mental health, then absolutely - they can be really great ways to keep yourself motivated and happy.

BUT it’s really important to remember that this is not a ‘holiday’ or a ‘sabbatical’, or a time where we need to be performing at our best. We are in the middle of an unprecedented global emergency, and it can be scary and cause anxiety for lots of us. So the most important thing at this time is to be kind to yourself. Don’t worry if you’re not being productive, or creative, or efficient. The main thing is to get through this period with as little stress as you can. Paying attention to our wellbeing is the most important thing we can do to ensure we are doing okay when this period ends.

It’s okay to deal with this situation however you can. When it’s overwhelming, it’s okay to switch off the news and do something that feels reassuring or comforting. One of the best ways to be kind to yourself is to think of small things that make you genuinely happy, and then to do them, one by one, without looking at a ‘big picture.’ Maybe it's having a nice long bath, watching old TV shows that make you laugh or doing a jigsaw puzzle, it really doesn’t matter how small they are or if they seem silly to you or to your family, just do them and have fun!

There are so many things we can do that might not seem ‘productive’ but which can give our spirits a lift, and that’s a form of self-love, and it’s going to be different for all of us, so don’t be ashamed to explore the tiny things that make you happy. This is a really difficult time, and the best way to get through it is by giving ourselves a pass on being perfect.

If you need support

You should always tell someone about the things you’re worried about. You can tell a friend, parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult. If you're struggling with your mental health, going to your GP can be a good place to start to find help. Your GP can let you know what support is available to you, suggest different types of treatment and offer regular check-ups to see how you’re doing.

If you’re in need of in-the-moment support you can contact Childline, where you can speak to a counsellor. Their lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

There are more links to helpful organisations on BBC Action Line.

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