#BellLet’sTalk

It’s #BellLetsTalk day! Bell Let’s Talk was founded in 2010. According to their site, they’ve committed $121,373,806.75 towards mental health initiatives since then. They have 4 pillars:

  1. Anti-stigma
  2. Care & access
  3. Research
  4. Workplace leadership

The Bell site actually has some great information. Here’s a quick excerpt from their COVID Page:

“The current COVID-19 situation can have an impact on your mental health. Practicing physical distancing makes it even more important that we make an extra effort to remain emotionally connected. Finding ways to stay connected with friends, family and loved ones will support good mental health and well-being.

Consider finding new ways to practice self-care and stay connected, such as reading with a virtual book club, having a video call over dinner, texting with friends or streaming a group fitness class. These are just some of the things that could support good mental well-being.”

https://letstalk.bell.ca/en/covid-19

I really believe in good mental health. I really believe in talking thru your feelings in whatever way that is safe for you. I continue to see my psychologist monthly, and regularly talk with my wife, family and best friends. I encourage you to reach out to your support structure if you need to!

We’re in a time where staying mentally healthy is hard! For the last two years, my entire life has changed.

  1. Work from home changed our working environment big time. Don’t underestimate this. No more water cooler conversations. No going out for a coffee chat or lunch with co-workers. I used to have a long commute that allowed me to transition from work-Dennis to home-Dennis. Now I walk downstairs. I’m “always” at home and at work.
  2. Relationships have changed. Conversations are mostly digital or over the phone. Breaking bread with friends wasn’t even possible at the height of the pandemic. We spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve 2020 alone. Some people don’t like talking on the phone. Some people don’t like text or messenger. Virtual relationships are different.
  3. Free time, what we do and how we do it has changed. Hobbies are different. At one point, we played golf in separate carts. This changes my interaction with my golf buddies who are part of my support structure. Instead of playing cards or board games IRL, we’re connecting virtually which changes my interaction with my friends.
  4. My psychology appointments became virtual. I actually liked this as I avoid the extra 90 mins driving and parking for every appointment. But it was different at first. It feels less personal. It’s also harder for my therapist to connect and read body language.
  5. For a long time, even if the “rules” allowed something, I wasn’t necessarily comfortable. For example, I felt super weird the first time I went to a restaurant. The second restaurant was so busy, that I didn’t dine in again for months. It took me a while to get used to sharing golf carts again. One day I went shopping and a couple of stores were so busy, I had to leave them in a hurry.

The pandemic has changed me. Things bother me now that I used to be ok with. I constantly feel threatened by COVID. It’s always on my mind. If I get sick [insert activity here like golfing] then I’ve wasted my time in isolation. That’s where my mental health has been.

  • Why did I isolate and avoid COVID for so long, only to go out and get sick?
  • Why did I isolate and avoid COVID for so long, only to go golfing and get sick?
  • Why did I isolate and avoid COVID for so long, only to dine in and get sick?
  • Why did I isolate and avoid COVID for so long, only to screw it up and get sick?

I’m slowly changing this. I’m ready to move forward. I’m ready to live life and accept some risk. I want need to travel! I like dining out. I like big parties. I like hanging out with the boizz! I love hanging out with friends. I love hugs!

As the world starts to change back, we need to embrace the new norm, but we also need to admit to ourselves that COVID changed things. Old habits will have to be formed again. You can start as quickly or as slowly as you like.

  1. If you are nervous about dining out, take baby steps. Try pick up instead of delivery first. (Quick story: I did this once during the pandemic and it felt so cramped in the pick up area, I never picked up again…) Trying dining in with your significant other or another couple. Then work your way up to a larger dinner gathering. Start small.
  2. Try going to a place that is less popular and thus less busy. I felt significantly different at 2 different restaurants I went to in the last 6 months. One was less busy, but also had a great layout that naturally allowed for space between diners. The other was packed and diners were sitting very close to each other. It’s ok to be uncomfortable, and it’s ok to say no or suggest a different place you are more comfortable with. Don’t start with WEM, go to a quiet mall first. VIP theatres are great, and feel spacey and less busy than the regular theatre. Find your safe space.
  3. Plan things with friends. For the last 18 months of isolation, we’ve all been trained to stay home and be by ourselves. It’s easy to forget that we used to be busy, and we used to call each other and hang out. It doesn’t have to be fancy. A sit down dinner and some games or a movie is a really fun night and a great way to connect! Start small and build yourself up to larger groups.
  4. Do something outside. Even in the winter, it’s easy to plan things outside. Go skating. Go for a walk. Have a winter fire and wiener roast. Host a BBQ. In the summer, it’s even easier to plan an outdoor day with your friends.

Mostly stay in touch with people. We NEED real people & real connections. We are in the habit of isolating. We’re in the habit of staying home. We are in the habit of take out and delivery. We are in the habit of virtual gatherings. Our old established habits have been changed. It takes time to form new habits even if they are old habits. Allow yourself time to change.

AND do some self reflection. Maybe you just never liked dining in. Maybe you prefer delivery. Sit down and make some notes. COVID has changed us. Change isn’t always bad. Change can be good…change can be great!

I’m still figuring out who I am. And that’s ok. Who are you? It’s ok to take time to figure that out. Let’s talk about it, and get thru this together.

#BellLetsTalk

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