This week we are posting online some of the articles in our current Sep/Oct BayBuzz magazine addressing its major theme – mental well-being. I hope you’ll read them, because they might be very useful to you personally … and yours. We’ll publish more of them next week. 

[And to give you one small bit of peace of mind … yes, the magazine, delayed by lockdown restrictions on our printer, is one the way!]

Meantime, here is an excellent discussion of Covid lockdown’s impact on our mental well-being. The author, Dougal Sutherland, a clinical psychologist from Victoria University writing in Sciblogs, makes an important distinction between degrees of mental illness (none to severe in the clinical sense) versus degrees of mental health (from flourishing to languishing). 

His point, people without ‘classic’ mental illness symptoms can still be languishing: “…it’s quite possible to experience a mental illness but still be flourishing or to have no symptoms of a mental illness, yet be in a state where life feels dull and meaningless.” He says we should expect that extended lockdowns are driving many of us into the ‘languishing’ category.

He offers this advice: 

“…languishing, burnout and stigmatisation are not inevitable consequences of an ongoing lockdown. Noticing changes in your own mental health is the first step to preventing a slide into languishing…

“To help combat burnout, a simple step we can all take is to show appreciation to essential workers. In 2020, public displays of support for healthcare workers were widespread in other parts of the world, but less common in New Zealand.

“Now is the time to thank our supermarket workers, truck drivers, public servants, doctors and nurses who continue to serve us. Demonstrating that these workers are valued can help buffer against professional burnout as they feel more engaged and satisfied with their work.”

Obviously we’re not enduring here in Hawke’s Bay what our compatriots are going through in Auckland. That said, how many of you feel like you’re ‘flourishing’ at the moment?

So we’ll offer this advice from BayBuzz. Expressing consideration to our local essential workers will make you feel better too!

‘Being kind’ is increasingly criticised as a politically-inspired substitute for doing the ‘hard yards’ of coping effectively with Covid. Surely effectiveness of response should be assessed and constructively criticised where needed. But that’s no reason to abandon the most fundamental building block of healthy social interaction. 

Be kind.

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