The third January of every month is classed as Blue Monday – statistically, the most depressing day of the year. General reasons for that could be because we’re all a bit down following the Christmas festivities, no one has any money following Christmas and the long run up to payday, and the weather is a bit shit. Add to that list “continuing global pandemic” and “UK lockdown” and you’ve pretty much got something that’s self explanatory. Every year, UK charity Samaritans have used the occasion as Brew Monday – a chance to get together and have a chat with a loved one over a cuppa. While this year, we may not be able to get together physically for a Brew Monday chat, it’s still as important as ever to stay connected to our loved ones.
We all know that feeling alone in a problem can have a huge impact on your mental health, which is why the Samaritans are encouraging us all to reach out to our loved ones this January. While we may not be able to have that cuppa in person, there’s still plenty of ways we can reach out to our loved ones – be it Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or even just an old fashioned phone call.
It’s hard to believe that we’re now in our third lockdown here in the UK, and for most of us, it’s certainly going to have an impact on our mental health. That’s why it’s incredibly important to reach out and check in with our friends and family now more than ever. Even a quick WhatsApp message or something as small as tagging them in a stupid meme on Facebook can make all the difference.
The main message of Brew Monday is to reach out to your loved ones, however, if you’re struggling yourself (particularly because of the current situation), it can be difficult to know where to start. So, today, I’ve put together a bit of a list of ways that I’ve kept in touch with my loved ones since the very first lockdown. These are things that have given me little moments of joy personally, and have also meant that I could still keep in touch with friends and family. Whether this gives you some ideas yourself or even so much as gets you inspired to pick up the phone, it’s in the hope that you get inspired to reach out.
Zoom Chats and Game Nights
Yes, as we enter Lockdown 3, we’re all massively fucking sick of Zoom. However, there’s no denying that during the first lockdown, it was something to look forward to every weekend. It was something that made you feel a little bit better about drinking in silence in front of your fourth run through of Normal People. Or was that just me? I digress. Anyway, it was a way of staying connected to our friends and our families when we couldn’t get together properly, and Christ, it was needed. We spent most weekends on Zoom chatting to the family and doing quizzes, playing JackBox games with our friends and getting hammered. It’s one of those things that if you mentioned it to your friends pre lockdown – “shall we have a Zoom quiz this evening?” – they would have punched you in the face, but for me (as I’m sure was the case for everyone else), it became something to look forward to each week.
During the first lockdown especially, I was sent some wonderful gifts from some of the most amazing friends. My lovely friend Beth and her two little boys sent me a letterbox gift which was a gin/pampering night set, while my friend Heather left a cat themed print in a frame on my doorstep. Both were completely unexpected and made my day when I received them.
Sending little gifts to loved ones can make a huge difference too – over the last few months I’ve sent little bits and pieces every now and then to friends when they’ve been going through a crappy time. It doesn’t have to be anything extravagant either – whether you can afford a beautiful bunch of flowers or a silly little jokey gift on Amazon, it can mean the world just to send a little something.
Picking Up the Phone
My grandparents don’t really do Facebook, so in this case you can’t beat picking up the phone. Speaking to my grandparents every now and again has given me the pick me up that I’ve needed and has assured me that they’re okay – I have never taken so much joy in my Nan telling me about her new shoes. Just because your grandparents don’t have Zoom or Skype or whatever, it doesn’t mean you can’t reach out to them. Just by picking up the phone, you can still show them how much you care just by picking up the phone.
The first lockdown put a stop to my weekly visits to Mama J’s house, so in the meantime, we had weekly FaceTime sessions. Essentially, it would be the same as our weekly bitching sessions, except I would usually be in my pyjamas and would progressively get more and more pissed where I was pouring endless gins in the process. Of course it wasn’t just Mama J I’d catch up with – it would be Daisy too. The reaction of that little pooch when she’d hear and see me on the screen would make my heart both melt and break where I missed her so much. Mama J and I have a laugh, we’d catch up, and we’d talk about what happened during our non-eventful weeks. Even better, I’d capture a few gems of Daisy:
Let’s not forget this comedy moment during a more recent Facetime we had where she left her phone on the coffee table while she went to answer the landline. I was staring at her ceiling while she continued to take the phone call.
I didn’t see Mama J in the flesh until my birthday, where she laid out a display of presents on a bin bag on my doorstep and I talked to her from her car, and I eventually saw Daisy again in June when they allowed us to meet other people outdoors. I am ridiculously grateful that social bubbles became a thing last summer, as given that Mama J lives alone, it meant I could actually go into her house, sit on the sofa and most importantly, give her a hug. As we enter lockdown 3, I’m incredibly relieved to see that support bubbles are still allowed, meaning I can still have my weekly visits to see Mama J and Daisy. Not only does it cheer me up during this crappy situation, but it also means I get to look out for my Mum during this shitty time too.
One of Liam’s things is that he sends me funny animal Tweets every now and again. This will literally be anything from chonky animals to tortoises eating bits of fruit (watch it, it’s adorable). The most recent one he sent me was a video of Larry the Downing Street cat twatting a pigeon while paps waited outside before the Brexit conference.
All the Memes
It’s such a small, silly thing, but honestly, during the darkest days of these infinite lockdowns, being sent or tagged in a meme by one of my friends would make my day. It would give you just a minute of laughter and sometimes you’d really bloody need that, and more than anything else, it showed that your friends were thinking of you.
I really didn’t want to be one of those people that got into TikTok during lockdown. In a way, I didn’t. I didn’t use it to make my own videos or anything so I guess that counts in a way. I don’t have the confidence, time or patience. However, Lillie sending me some of the most random and relatable videos has often had me crying with laughter these last few months. We send each other videos on a regular basis and they never get old. Such a small, simple thing has cheered me up on some ridiculously dark and miserable days.
However you choose to reach out to your loved ones, doing so will undoubtedly mean the world to them. While we can’t currently be there for our loved ones in person, there’s still plenty of ways to let them know we’re thinking of them and to put a smile on their face. Remember to look after yourself during the current times too. To end, I’ve put together a list of the small things that are getting me through the current (and hopefully, the last) lockdown:
Listening to the radio and skipping the news – I’ve been listening to Greg James and Scott Mills on the BBC app on delay, meaning I can skip past the news updates but still enjoy the tunes and the banter.
Reading during my lunch break – I’ve genuinely felt so much happier on the days I haven’t been sat scrolling through my phone for an hour.
Re-watching comedy shows – We’ve just finished Fresh Meat.
Using the excuse “we’re in lockdown” for literally anything – Another glass of wine? We’re in lockdown. Buying another thing on Amazon? We’re in lockdown. Watching through Normal People AGAIN? We’re in lockdown. It’s fine.
Extra cuddles with Tilly – she’s loving having us home all day every day.
Baby Yoda – the memes, the TikTok clips, you name it. Pedro Pascal (who plays Mando) is also rather dreamy too.
Going for walks – I was unaware until recently that we live very close by to some incredible views of Bath.
What has been picking you up at the moment? Let me know in the comments!