Horses at Holt Country Park

A recent survey found 79% of those living with a mental health condition believed that the coronavirus and the lockdown measures have made things worse.

I’m surprised it isn’t higher.

Being locked away, unable to see friends and family, having summer cancelled, and staying in the same proximity over a long period of time is certainly not easy. Coupled up with economic uncertainty it is a pretty miserable time.

The fact we’re all in this together provides some solace, but that’s often little comfort when we are cut off from normality.

I’m fortunate enough to have come back to north Norfolk for this period of time to stay with family. Journalism also doesn’t stop for anybody, meaning that I’m still just as consumed by politics as I was as with the Brexit debacle and the general election.

In many ways work is a helpful distraction – especially having a routine and having to get dressed each morning. Writing for an audience takes me to my happy place. Even if it’s about Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

It makes my Monday to Friday busy. My thoughts are consumed by what will make the best political story of the day, the best headline, and what will fly on social media.

But as much as I long for a weekend and a lie-in, I find that’s when my mental health falters. Suddenly you have time to think. It’s all too easy to pick up a laptop and carry on working when your home is your office to ignore it all, but realistically I would hit burn out.

My fitbit spurs me on to keep exercising. Hitting my daily target of steps is a big motivator for reminding me to get out of the house, away from the computer, and appreciate what is on the doorstep. But making those moves out of the house isn’t always easy, I can always find an excuse not to do it.

The thought of meeting lots of people during the coronavirus is also major anxiety issue. I try to time it when the park might be less busy – but people are unpredictable – and warm weather brings everyone out.

The great outdoors certainly helps my mental health. Whether that’s leaving food for the birds in my parents’ garden, watching the babies take their first steps out of the nest, seeing the chickens we own, or the deers, the horses and rabbits in the nearby park.

Listening to music on my walks helps too. Listening to new music on Spotify it always amazes me how artists are still turning around new material in a pandemic. I adore listening to radio too, it really is the theatre of minds.

I’ve finally started on some of the boxsets I’ve long put off, as well as new ones like Normal People and Afterlife. I might finally be able to say at the end of this pandemic I’ve seen Game of Thrones too, although I’m starting to realise it’s mediocre sex and gore.

Being able to drive for miles is also therapeutic, even if I encounter millions of cyclists on the way. The bigger supermarkets can be relaxing depending on what day I visit – it’s certainly less stressful than when people were panic buying toilet rolls.

And social media helps a great deal. For the first few weeks I muted coronavirus and Covid-19, and avoided reading news at night. It became too much. But offloading my frustrations, my ridiculous thoughts, and finding assurance everyone’s going through the same thing provides some relief. Even when it’s gone dark and I should be sleeping there’s often someone there going through it all too.

I have yet to embark on any new projects. While I’ve managed to write a few blog posts, I haven’t done anything out of the ordinary. I have at least managed to avoid TikTok like every other millennial going through an early midlife crisis.

My anxiety is not yet able to deal with Zoom calls. I have enough to contend with when my colleagues use Teams to make an unannounced video call, especially as we don’t have large bookshelves to sit in front of like every single person on the news.

I still have a goal of starting a podcast, but with every middle-aged man starting one I fear the market has now been saturated, so it may have to remain on the backburner.

Nonetheless if you want to be involved in such a project you know how to contact me.

Written by Jono Read
Jono Read is a 32-year-old writer from Norfolk. He is a social media manager and a journalist. He blogs about politics, popular culture, and marketing.