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Wow. So things got very real very quickly, didn’t they? Only two weeks ago, I was chatting to a friend on the phone, saying how unlikely it’d be that we’d go into full lockdown – and yet here we are.

These definitely feel like dark times. It’s brought out the worst in some (stockpiling bog-rolls for starters), but it’s also shown the incredible compassion and generosity that humans are capable of. I don’t mind admitting that I’ve welled up a few times at the small acts of kindness that I’ve read about on the news.

Staying mentally fit and well

Firstly – I know I’m not alone in my awe and respect for key-workers at this time. The NHS staff who are already so tired, and yet are still in the hospitals, ready to save lives. The teachers who are still at the schools, educating the kids who have no-one at home to take care of them. The supermarket workers, delivery people, farmers – all those in the food supply chain who are putting themselves on the line every day. I’m full of respect for you all – and when this is over, I will be making sure that I thank them and REMEMBER what they did during this time.

Secondly – for us folk at home. I think we’ve got the easier option by a mile, but it’s still going to be a challenge. We’ve only been self-isolating for a few days, and already, it feels like a lonely endeavour.

That’s where writing can come in really handy. It’s only a small activity in the grand scheme of things, but I believe it can make a positive difference.

Benefit 1 – letting it all out!

Feeling frustrated by being cooped up? Sad about the risk to life? Worried about someone in particular? Writing is a wonderful way to process these feelings. Sometimes, just getting it out on paper is a form of therapy in itself. You don’t have to show anyone – it’s just for your benefit.

It’s great for kids to do this too – as we have to remember this is hard on them as well. Even just a daily journal can stop that feeling of being overwhelmed by it all.

Benefit 2 – a form of empowerment

Creative writing literally enables you to invent a new reality. Even better, it’s one that you have total control over, which is empowering (especially if this current situation is leaving you feeling powerless and vulnerable).

You call the shots about what happens, and you get to give it a happy ending, which is welcome in times like this.

Benefit 3 – a welcome distraction

Writing can take you off somewhere else, even if it’s just for an hour or two. Delve into your latest fantasy novel, and before you know it, you’ve spent an afternoon with a whole host of characters who don’t even have to think about coronavirus. Even tinkering with each individual word in a poem is a great way to ease anxiety.

Benefit 4 – a group activity?

If you’ve got friends who are writers, why not use this time to do a collaborative writing project? Obviously, you’ll be working via email and social media, but this level of challenge could be really good fun.

Stay strong, and stay kind!

This situation is a real test for everyone. Things look set to get worse before they get better. But they will get better. Hopefully, a few months down the line, we’ll be out of the worst, and we’ll emerge as wiser, more compassionate people.

Again, thank you to the key workers. A thanks seems like too paltry a thing – but please know that it’s VERY heartfelt. Let’s all remember how valuable these services are; in times like this, we don’t turn to the banker or the stockbroker (not that I’m diminishing those jobs). We look to the people who graft hard to keep society running. Much respect.