My Name is Karl Stephenson and I am part of the WECIL Volunteer Know Your Rights team. We are a Peer Advocacy group who have been set up to help people with Learning Disabilities to learn about their rights. I have volunteered for a number of charities over the past ten years and I am a massive railway enthusiast!
The ‘new normal’
Since the Covid – 19 pandemic struck in March we have all had to adjust to a “new normal”. It has been stressful for most of us but imagine the extra stress if you have autism or other learning difficulties. For me personally, I like to follow a routine which has been significantly disrupted since the start of the pandemic. However, I have found the extra time during lockdown useful as it has given me an opportunity to have a think about what is important and what is not as important. One of the things that I have thought about is about how to get through these increasingly difficult times. These are the things I have learnt.
Exercise and Fresh Air
The first thing that I have found useful is going out for long walks in my local area which, over the summer and early autumn has built up my fitness. If you can’t get out for walks try to find some quiet space outside and spend some time there as just spending time in the fresh air is extremely beneficial to your mental health. Another thing that I can highly recommend in terms of maintaining your mental health is finding time for your hobbies. I have completed some Air Fix aircraft kits which has improved my concentration skills.
If you want to undertake a project that otherwise would have taken a long time to complete – now is the time to do it! This could be that novel you’ve always wanted to write or that half-finished craft project you’ve had lying around. For example, as a family we have used a couple of the genealogy websites to look into our family tree. Of all the things that I have mentioned, the most important thing is to keep busy. Fill your time and don’t just sit at home and do nothing. If you sit on your hands and do nothing then this, above all else can lead to more problems than it solves.
To try to maintain our mental health over the pandemic I think it is important to keep in contact with those who mean a lot to us. We can do this safely face to face or by email, zoom, a phone call or an old fashioned hand written letter! I have made time to keep in contact with a number of my friends and family. We have had virtual pub quizzes and before the second lockdown, went an outdoor visit to some historic gardens. Keeping in touch with friends and family is one of the most important things we can do to keep our spirits up during these testing times.
Stay tuned for part two!
Part 2 of Karl’s lockdown tips blog will be uploaded to our website next week! If you’d like to share your own lockdown tips email our Know Your Rights Group at: firstname.lastname@example.org