Saturday 20 March 2021

Wellbeing Boxes

Linda shares her experience with wellbeing boxes and mental health during lockdown.

- Linda

During the first lockdown, I had a nice routine. I went on a walk every day. I would abandon Google Maps and venture anywhere and everywhere. I drew on most days, sent postcards, and sang. I called my dad most days to gossip about my siblings whilst he was drinking his afternoon tea. I saw that the usually shy sun was showing its face, so instead of battling on with my masters, I put my work on hold and soaked up the sun. The pandemic was not ideal but I was determined to make the most out of it. Well, that was when I thought that it would only be a couple of weeks. By the third lockdown, cold winter came with an even colder reality: that the pandemic was not going away anytime soon. I felt like a passive recipient of life and time was sliding away sluggishly. Fun times! 

I know that I am extremely lucky that, apart from some inconveniences, my life has been unscathed by the pandemic. I was lucky to have a stable job. And, though I might have been far away from my family, I had friends who lived locally enough for me to go on walks with them. It could have been so much worse. But counting my blessings didn't erase the pain or difficulty I was still experiencing. In December, depression had ensnared me yet again. It started with a persistent case of tonsillitis that left my body frail and fatigued. Still, I couldn’t stop; I was juggling so many things and many of them had already crashed to the ground. I was immensely bitter from a break-up and … well, even more lonely. The last straw was the drastic – but of course, necessary - change to the Christmas bubbles which meant that I was spending my first Christmas without family, all alone with my increasingly unhappy thoughts. My routine completely fell apart. I stopped cooking, forgot to grocery shop, and would sporadically clean. Occasionally, I’d have bursts of energy where I’d face up to adult life, but like lit matches, that fire was easily extinguished. 

But something changed last week when I learned about wellbeing boxes. It is simple really. You get a box, and you put together specific activities and the things that you will need to complete the activities. So, it is not just, “I am going to put on a face mask at some point this week." It is planning how long the activity will take and getting the face mask ready. So, I decided to put together a wellbeing box for myself. After all, when I am not working, sleeping, or eating, I am kind of just sitting around waiting for time to pass or stuck in my own head. So, I started to think about how self-care works for me. I know many people like to try out new recipes, but cooking can be a struggle for me. Because I am often inconsistent with cooking, eating, and buying food, I need my meals to be simple and low in effort, otherwise, it is draining. However, when it comes to drawing, I am always filled with ideas and inspiration. For the most part, I always have what I need as my room is filled with art and craft materials and books accumulated over the past five years. 

So, as I was organising my wellbeing box, it hit me that being specific and, in some respects, having constraints, are the secret ingredients that I have been searching for all my life. Sometimes, the myriad of decisions and options can be overwhelming. I end up spending more time thinking about what I will do instead of actually doing things. However, with my wellbeing box, I take a vague concept like improving my singing and make it manageable. Instead of thinking about the songs that will suit my voice, I have printed out specific songs that I want to learn. I have a hard copy so that I can practice away from my phone and I have set myself half an hour for any song so I have time to warm up, remember the lyrics, and practice the song. Therefore, when I get ready to actually do something, I don't have to invest a lot of time or effort in planning. So, if you're struggling with feelings and experiences that are similar to mine, I would definitely recommend that you put together a wellbeing box. 

If you would like to find out more about putting together a wellbeing box, have a look at this resource:

For additional resources on managing your mental health during lockdown, please click here.

I am Linda. I did a BSc in Psychology at the University of Warwick and now I am studying a MSc in Psychological research and working part-time. 

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