I need to let you into a secret: some weeks ago, I decided that living through the pandemic, not being able to see many of my loved ones and hearing news which seems to get worse by the day was seriously damaging my mental health and I needed to do something to stop myself feeling overwhelmed and powerless and from drifting into depression. Is life beginning to get you down, too?
So, what to do about it?
A strict media diet
First, I put myself on a strict media diet. Television and radio news is limited to short slots during the day and early evening. Social media, which I know can become pretty addictive, maximum 2 hours a day. Does that sound a lot? I suspect many of us have seen our social media use shoot up during lockdown.
Then, as regular readers will know, I’m spending ever more time rooting out and spreading good news stories as an antidote to the stories of gloom and doom which seem to surround our every day.
If, like me, you’re in need to hearing the good stuff you might like to re-visit my posts of Feb 20 2019 ‘Is Britain Broken’? Aug 10 2018 ‘The politics of fear’ and Oct 1 2020 ‘More Good News Stories’
I’m desperately trying to get some simple messages across:
- Although we constantly hear stories of nasty people, wars, starvation and the rest this is not the whole story. Many, many people worldwide are rising up, defending their lands and their homes, caring for the vulnerable and finding co-operative ways of living simply.
- Fear is very disabling, controlling and stops action. Even the British Medical Association has spoken of ‘the politics of fear’.
- By setting aside fear we might feel able to take some action to help to move the world to a better place. Small changes made by millions of people in their day-to-day lives can have a big impact. You might decide to join one of the many ‘eco’ groups which have sprung up in recent years. Or you might choose to join one of the protest groups which has emerged in response to climate change.
- It will help us to get a more balanced picture of our world and will give us hope for the future if we give the daily headlines a suitable amount of attention but also find time to look for the positive and uplifting stories which usually go unreported and unnoticed.
Now let’s get on with my latest good news find …
Positive News magazine – yes, I know, I’ve mentioned it before but it’s worth re-visiting. The good news stories always give me a lift when life is beginning to get me down, especially so when I was alerted to the website of Together who are
‘a coalition that everyone is invited to join, from community groups to some of the UK’s best known organisations. Our aim is to bring people together and bridge divides, to help build a kinder, closer and more connected society.’
In March last year Together published a report of a study they had carried out to assess the impact of the pandemic on community relations. And very good news it was. They reported that …
- Despite periods of unease, the public responded by strengthening community connections
- Most people got to know their neighbours better
- An overwhelming majority want to keep the benefits of closer communities and build on them
- A massive 12.4 million people volunteered during the pandemic, 4.6 million of them for the first time, of whom 75% would volunteer again
Bishop Nick Baines, chair of the together trustees, summed it up:
“We found a clear public appetite for a society in which we are more connected to each other and the community spirit of 2020 is kept alive.“
Very timely for me because during lockdown I’ve been aware that generally speaking people have been very caring, looking after vulnerable people and generally doing what they can to help get us through this difficult time. And focusing on good news really does help to protect my sanity and stop life getting me down.
Yes! Post pandemic let’s do all we can to hang on to the community spirit. After all, one good thing the pandemic has shown us is that family, friends, and neighbours are what really make life worthwhile.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash