Image via @innerpeach


2020, for most, has been one of the toughest years physically, financially and mentally. Wildfires have ravaged Australia, racial tensions have risen, a global pandemic has crippled the economy and people across the world have been separated from friends and family for most of the year. So, if there was ever a time to discuss mental health, it’s now. At The Sole Womens and The Sole Supplier, we’re devoted to ensuring no one feels alone in their struggles with mental health – which is why members of our team have decided to share their story, in the hope that it inspires others to share, recover and feel less alone.



Paige’s Story


 Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

I’ve always struggled with my mental health. Medication and frequent meditation helps me, but 2020 has been especially tough. During lockdown I suffered more than usual with anxiety and I was unable to turn to my friends and family which made everything that little bit harder! The prospect of a second lockdown does worry me, but I know that this time I’ll be better at coping using the skills I learned during the first wave.


What helped you cope during lockdown?

Work actually helped me to cope, a lot! Luckily, I didn’t face furlough or anything like that so being able to carry on with work was a huge distraction and helped me form a solid routine.

Completing YouTube workouts (especially yoga) also helped me stay healthy and boost my endorphins and lockdown gave me the chance to read a lot more, which took my mind off everything.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

It’s so important to remember that you’re not alone. Everyone is feeling the effects of 2020 and it’s okay to find it tough! Because it is. Be kind to yourself, take time when you need it and, for the love of God, stop watching the news.



Kelly’s Story


Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

2020 has been such a challenging year in so many ways. Who could have predicted that a pandemic would come and turn everything upside down? The first lockdown for me was actually okay, being grounded back at home with my family, not drinking alcohol and spending quality time with loved ones.

However, as the months progress, it feels like there’s no end in sight and people around me are suffering, so it’s become more and more draining. It’s been hard to maintain a positive mental state at times, but it’s important to be there for each other. You can have your down days but then try not to wallow in it. You can’t control what’s happening so don’t try, just try to be in control of your own mindset and space.

What helped you cope during lockdown?

Exercise, communication and books. Staying connected to people is SO important, even if it’s a FaceTime for 10 minutes, voice notes or checking up on your friends and family. Joining an online class is also such a good way to keep active and feel connected to others. I make sure to exercise every day as I know that it keeps my mood steady and positive. Reading books around psychology and motivation also helped me. Scrolling through Twitter and Instagram would bring my mood down because it was just constant bad news, but the books were a welcome distraction.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

Don’t think too much about the future and be grateful for what you do have right now. Also, try to remember that you’re not alone in how you feel right now. Staying connected to people, talk about how you feel and get out and about when you can – staying active is so important!


Image via @linearillustration


Jack’s Story


Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

2020 hasn’t been the easiest year ever. I was meant to move countries in March, but obviously when the pandemic hit that went totally up in the air. Myself and my girlfriend ended up having to move back in with my parents for a few months which put all our plans on hold. It was pretty stressful at times as we’d spent so much time and effort arranging the logistics of the move for it to just flop. Thankfully, we got there in the end.

What helped you cope during lockdown?

Sticking to a routine really made a difference. I’m fortunate that work was constant throughout lockdown so that actually really helped. I also ramped up my training to the next level and made sure I was running and cycling multiple times a week, which is something that’s helped me in the past too.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

The best piece of advice I can give is that if you can’t change it right now, it’s not worth worrying about. When things are totally out of control it’s easy to spend hours stressing over the outcome, but I find it’s just best to let things play out and deal with the situation after. Make sure to get outside regularly too, even if it’s only for a walk – fresh air helps massively!


Image via @innerpeach


 ANON’s Story


 Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

My mental health has always been a bit problematic and I think 2020 saw my longest and lowest-low yet. Being stuck in the same four walls was the perfect breeding ground for bad habits – particularly when I’d already brought them into lockdown with me. I felt so alone. Dark thoughts flourished, as did my disordered eating and terribly critical self-view and it felt like I wouldn’t be able to get myself out of it all this time.

What helped you cope during lockdown?

I was fortunate to be working from home, which was a good distraction and helped me maintain some routine. I bought colouring books, card games, tried to avoid the news, find new films and tv shows to watch and made my boyfriend drag me out for walks most days. But I’ll be honest and say, whilst all these things were good to do, I didn’t really cope very well for the majority of lockdown.

It took multiple trips to rock bottom before I realised that everybody is different and there isn’t a one size fits all remedy for dealing with mental health during lockdown: I had to work out what was best for me.

There had been so many at-home workouts, tips to avoid overeating and healthy alternatives to “junk food” (that were just not comparable to the real thing AT ALL) and how to keep the lockdown pounds at bay all over social media. It was so, so hard to block all this out but I had to realise that whilst it definitely helped others, it wasn’t for me. By continuing to put that pressure on myself to ‘better my body’, my health would continue to deteriorate, both physically and mentally. For me to cope I had to try and heal and that meant letting go of the control that diet, exercise and my body image had on me.



So, I think I started to cope after deciding to go all-in with recovery. Whilst, initially, I felt worse (and devastated that my attempts to get better didn’t seem to be working), I stuck at it and after a few weeks I felt a lot better. Now I could use the extra time I had in lockdown more productively and focus on healing myself. I learned just how much more I needed to rest and eat and value myself, and gradually I started to heal. This gave me more energy to think clearly and deal with my other issues in less harmful ways and I’ve continued to heal so much over the last few months I barely recognise who I was back then.

I can’t say for sure how I’d feel in another lockdown. As of now I feel I’m in a much better place, but I do worry about the loneliness and uncertainty coming around again and that being the primary trigger of relapse. It’s difficult to remember that we’re not alone and there are more people we can reach out to than we probably think. It’s so important to talk and I know going forward that I don’t need to suffer in silence, and no one should feel they have to.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

Take each day as it comes and don’t be so hard on yourself.

There are more people out there who understand you than you think. These are tricky conversations to start but once they start, they’re such a relief and just knowing you have that space to talk changes so much.

It’s ok to be selfish and prioritise what you want and need.

If the previous day was particularly tough, try and start the next one as if it didn’t happen. Don’t let a bad day drag out into a bad week.

Remember, everyone is so different. Don’t compare yourself to others and try to base your wellbeing on what you think you ‘should’ be doing.

Accept there will be ups and downs, but don’t treat the downs as failures, they’re just little bumps in the road that I believe you have the strength to get over.

Eat the cookie and enjoy it!



 Roxy’s Story


Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

2020 has probably been one of the hardest years so far when it comes to maintaining good mental health. The year began with months and months of unemployment after my masters and it was tough. I didn’t know where my head was at and when I finally found a job, of course, Covid-19 hit and I lost it very suddenly. I was furloughed for two months at a heavily reduced wage that I could just about get by on, so keeping my mind busy was especially hard. With all this extra time to think and feel anxious, I ended up falling out with my housemates and nearly moved out which definitely didn’t help, it made me feel alone and more worried than ever.

I now have a new job so if a second lockdown comes, I know I’ll be much busier and I hope that my mental health will be more stable this time around.

What helped you cope during lockdown?

Although I had so much time and so little to do, it got to mid-April when I realised I couldn’t just slump around and eat biscuits until it was all over. I realised that although a lot of passions resided in social settings which we couldn’t do anymore, I needed to channel my anxieties into something I could do indoors. So, with all the extra time I had, I found my love for yoga again, I began exercising and I started up my blog again which was a huge passion and stress relief of mine.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

My advice to those who are struggling with mental health is to get up and move, although it seems so cliché now. I was never the walking type before lockdown, but when I went out and sat by the river or just in the field on my own and read a book or blogged, it gave me breathing space. Just taking time to breathe was another key coping mechanism for me.


Image via @aolanow


Tegan’s Story


Have you faced any challenges with your mental health during 2020?

I’ve struggled on a low scale, as most people do in this day and age, but more so at the start of lockdown. Most of my stress was around people not having respect for boundaries or the rules set out by the government. It was frustrating to see people who thought they knew best and were above the rules that everyone else was following. The uncertainty of it all and what might happen was the worst bit, as the numbers of cases and deaths continued to rise by hundreds each day.

What helped you cope during lockdown?

Despite being quite a loud and energetic person, I am very much happy to be on my own and loved just spending time at home. I went through three phases and none of them really align to one thing. At the start, I was doing things such as deep cleaning, exercising in the sun and generally spending time on things I wouldn’t have when I was crashing out on my commute. Next, I was in full relax mode. I finally got my hands on a Switch (to live my childhood Animal Crossing dream again) and just enjoyed food, family time and drinking on evenings and weekends while doing 0 exercise. Finally, I swapped my Switch out for a Kindle, I spent time working on myself and my illustrations and really started to enjoy the slowness of life. It has definitely highlighted to me how I can enjoy time while not spending money on random things daily while out and about.

What advice would you give to others struggling with their mental health as we enter into the unknown over the next few months?

I know as the weather turns, I’m definitely going to feel inclined to stay in and keep cosy with snacks on those cold, dark days. I think whatever you do, you need to do what’s best for you, try to enjoy the slowness as much as you can. It’s also so helpful to think about the benefits, such as how much money you can save and how you are a few steps closer to that thing you’ve been working towards!


Image via @hannaharand


Below are a list of resources and charities you can support or reach out to if you need help:


CALM

Since lockdown began in the UK, CALM (aka, Campaign Against Living Miserably) has answered 69,090 calls and webchats and directly prevented 242 suicides.

BEAT Eating Disorders

BEAT is a helpline for those who need help with eating disorders. You can find online peer support, information and real people to talk to about your experience.

Mind

Mind is a UK-based charity that offers a wide range of support, from Coronavirus advice and support to drug treatment and support helplines.


Instagram Accounts:


@letstalk.mentalhealth

 

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@_hi-anxiety_


@realtalk.therapist

 

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Earlier this year, Breonna Taylor, a black medical worker was tired and went to bed. She woke up to police raid on her doorstep, and was shot five times by the entering police. One of the police officers shot 10 rounds blindly into the apartment. A woman died. No police officers were charged for her death. The only consequence was that a police officer was dismissed for the bullets that missed. So even a black woman sleeping in her bed is not safe. And not safe from the very people who should be keeping her safe. Let alone the Microaggressions, racist encounters, racial workplace politics, internal racism, misrepresentation in the media, the sexism, misogyny and racial fetishisation that black women face. So when I see another black woman’s life invalidated by the social justice system… it exhausts me. I am tired. Black womxn are tired. Black people are tired. Take care of yourselves. Find peace and community in any ways that you can. You are valued and loved and important in this world ❤️ Tash x *Comments off for my own peace and safety* #breonnataylor #breonnataylorwasmurdered #justiceforbreonnataylor #blacklivesmatter #justice #socialjustice #blackwomxn #blackwoman #blackwomenmatter #blackwomen #race #bipoc #tired #racism #grief #loss #bereavement #griefjourney #collectivegrief #blackcommunity #peace #love #support #justiceforbreonna #africanamerican

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@myeasytherapy

 

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Who needs a reminder of this?⁠ ⁠ 🎨@mayedoodles⁠ ⁠ You don’t have to avoid, or deny your inner emotions anymore, the feelings you have are appropriate responses to the situation you’re in but guess what, it doesn’t need to prevent you from moving forward with your life. This. Will. Pass. ⁠ ⁠ Life brings beauty, and wonder. It also brings issues and hardship. But what if you could still commit to making the changes you need to in spite of what is going on in your life and how you felt about it,…? (sounds great but how the hell do I do that? I hear you say)⁠ ⁠ 1. By learning how to listen to your own self-talk or the way you talk to yourself specifically about difficult events, difficult relationships, physical limitations, or other issues. ⁠ ⁠ 2. Deciding if an issue requires immediate action and change or if it can—or must—be accepted for what it is while you learn to make changes that can affect the situation. ⁠ ⁠ 3. Look at what hasn’t worked for you in the past, so that you can stop repeating thought patterns and behaviours that are causing you more problems in the long run. ⁠ ⁠ 4. Once you have faced and accepted your current issues, make a commitment to stop fighting your past and your emotions and, instead, start practising more confident and optimistic behaviour, based on your personal values and goals.⁠ ⁠ Trying to control painful emotions doesn’t usually work, and a lot of the time ends up being counterproductive, because suppression of these feelings ultimately leads to more distress. BUT by taking steps to change your behaviour while, at the same time, learning to accept your internal experiences, you can eventually change your attitude and emotional state.⁠ ⁠ 🗣❤️ If you struggle with self love, finding your self compassionate voice, never manage to cheerlead for yourself (but are real acquainted with that critical bully in your mind) then check out the self love toolkit. It’s the answer to everything you need in order to turbo charge that self love. LINK IN BIO ⁠ ⁠ 🗣❤️Tag a friend too, lets spread some easy therapy ⁠

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