a toxic

The past few weeks in this wonderful place we call home have been incredibly difficult for various reasons. The disappearance and then discovery of Noah Donohoe was an emotional trauma which at its heart sees a devastated mother and family but extends to a population in grief. The passing and funeral of Bobby Storey has witnessed an unedifying political and media focus on the untimely passing and funeral of a major figure in Irish politics. In the middle of these two major events was the shooting dead of 28 year-old Warren Crossan in St James’. 

So many people have felt a heavy pall over the city as these events have played out. At their heart three grieving families, all the subject of media focus which will impact on their journey of grieving, albeit separately unique experiences of that.

It is important in these times for the rest of us to take a step back and find balance. It is not necessary to have opinions on all matters or to become consumed by issues that, while important, do not impact directly on our lives. After a time of pandemic when so much fear stalked our streets and we lived in lockdown it is now necessary to find positives and mindfully reach towards that which builds up and empowers. Rather than being vicariously distressed, albeit for the heartbreaking times we live in, let’s give ourselves permission to step back and recover our mental health and wellbeing. We can offer support and be genuinely moved by the plight of those recently bereaved while also acknowledging the positives that are in our own lives and reconnect with that which keeps us centred and whole.  In fact that helps us sustain our support in the long term.

I have spoken to so many people who realised that hanging onto every news bulletin regarding the pandemic was bad for their mental health. They felt a perpetual anxiety. Equally when news broadcasts and programmes are filled with anger and argument we can feel diminished. There is nothing wrong with not putting on the news, or any show which has everyone shouting. In fact, it is probably a good idea, especially if you find your mood becomes better and you aren’t kicking the cat anymore.

Equally it is great to find any productive thing that lets us process anger, grief or worry in a safe and enriching way. My garden should look a lot better than it does considering I find pottering around snipping dead heads off roses and planting things helps my mood so much. As anyone who knows me though my go-to place of refuge is at my cooker. It is where I connect to all of my positive memories of nurture and care. And I don’t mean the slapping together a spag bol while the kids are moaning but getting elbow high in flour and butter and grubby recipe books just takes me out of myself. I have to concentrate on something else and something I can control. And of course, I get the satisfaction of a finished product to be greedy with. 

That in no way means I don’t engage with important and vital matters, because I do. But a little healthy self-care and nurture is essential and healthy. Permission to take a break is definitely a gift to yourself.

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