It’s OK to not be OK

by Anita Manley

Well folks, after a much needed hiatus, I’m back! I’ve missed you all.

Since the beginning of May, I’ve been struggling with all the rules, regulations, isolation, distancing from friends and family (mostly the no-hugs rule) and basically had the novel coronavirus blues. I am sure many of you can relate. I felt a deep connection (and still do) to that very popular song from early 70’s, called Signs by Ottawa’s very own Five Man Electrical Band. “Do this, don’t do that…can’t you read the sign?” I loved that song while listening to it on the radio growing up, but I can really relate to it even more now. There are signs and rules for EVERYTHING these days. Stay six feet or two meters apart. No mask, no entry. Turn left upon entry, follow arrows and physical distancing marks on floor. Do not bring your own reusable grocery bags. One person per family. The list goes on.

Just some of the signs I see everyday.

How are you coping during this pandemic? Are you also feeling as though it will never end? Of course, it will end… and things are opening up gradually — very gradually. I was able to give my daughter a very long hug on her recent birthday. What joy!

Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to improve my mental health over the past month:* (perhaps you can incorporate some of these into your routine)

  1. Breathe — that’s right, just take a time out and concentrate on your breath. I have been using the free app called INSIGHT TIMER as recommended by my family doctor. It has helped me a great deal.
  2. Give myself and my husband a hug — nothing better than a hug every day to fuel connection. If you cannot hug someone else, then hug yourself. It sure does feel great.
  3. Journal — Just write it down, get all those thoughts out on paper to clear your mind.
  4. Be compassionate — everyone has their own beliefs and feelings about COVID, if they are impatiently awaiting in line, or not wearing a mask or swearing at you for taking too long — it is their issue so I try not to take it personally. You never know someone else’s story.
  5. Create positive experiences — make it a point to ramp up the little things that bring you joy. A nature walk, reading a good book, or watch your favourite series on Netflix with a bowl of popcorn.
  6. Set boundaries — limit news consumption, and perhaps the time you spend on social media.
  7. Reach out for support — talk to friends and family about how you are feeling and give them some support as well. I have a friend who delivered a meal to me when she heard I was struggling. In turn, I paid it forward to someone else by delivering a meal to them.
  8. Write gratitudes — my husband and I have started a bowl of joy, by writing a gratitude each night and placing it in the bowl and reading them at the end of each month.
  9. Tell yourself: you’ve got this!

    I have learned lots over the past month.  I have learned that “it really is OK not to be OK” — just be in the moment, feel all the feelings and do the rest of the things on this list …and you will come out the other side.

    * adapted from Noom.
Since we are in Phase 2 of opening up in Ontario, I was able to give my daughter, Julia a big hug for her birthday last week. What joy!

5 thoughts on “It’s OK to not be OK

  1. Great article, and lovely picture of you and your daughter Julia. The world around us is gradually learning to breathe again, even if it’s just in the tiniest of ways. The grocery store nearest me is accepting re-usable bags again. I know that’s a tiny thing, but it’s important to celebrate small victories. 🙂 We are not out of the woods yet, but post-pandemic we have an opportunity now to build a better world. That hope is personally comforting.


    • Yes, George, so true. The stores near me are allowing the re-usable bags again too (with certain rules and restrictions around where they can be placed). There is hope as we come out the other side.


  2. Anita, I am so sorry to hear you were struggling.i,m happy that you have many people who support you during this time. I certainly enjoyed your latest blog. Love all the ideas that you put forward so that others may find them helpful in their own time of struggle. Julia must have been thrilled to be able to celebrate her birthday with you. In this picture of Julia I see a resemblance to Nicola, the lovely smile they both share.Stay safe you and Ron. I would love to have you and Ron for a visit anytime you feel like getting away. As I,’ve said lots of sleeping space here. Take care of yourself Anita.


  3. Very inspiring and action oriented. Thank you for your amazing insights. My mornings are taking on a new shape as I invite new ways to create positivity and better mental health into my life. Thank you a ton!!!!


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