In this series, 'Taking Care', we will be handing the reins over to mental health and wellness experts who will share their wisdom on looking after your mental wellness during strange and uncharted times such as these.
Our first participant is Athena Pite. Athena is a welfare and development officer for the PRS Members’ Fund, a registered social worker and mental health first aider.
The PRS Members' Fund provide support and advice to PRS for Music members and their families who are struggling financially, physically or emotionally and are in need of help. For more information, head to their website.
'Discordant notes, harmony, melody and cadence disrupted, jarred like the rhythm and routine of our lives. Stuck, beats on hold, literally going nowhere; chords of our usual activities hung, suspended – no end in sight, tension mounting.
'All of us will respond and experience the current situation in different ways. There’s often though a visceral as well as cognitive reaction to change that is below conscious awareness, and this particular change has been dramatic, thrust upon us quickly, with no real period of transition or adjustment.
'We’re likely to experience an ebb and flow of thoughts and feelings more acutely than usual – sad, anxious, angry – whatever, they’re all completely natural human reactions.
'The physical and ‘mind-space’ we find ourselves in may highlight aspects of our lives, prompting us to take a different view. For some, this can be acutely painful as the arising thoughts and feelings are faced, perhaps for the first time. If we hadn’t realised they’d been hidden, it can be like a light suddenly illuminating a darkened corner of a room, with all the glare that entails! These experiences can be compounded if we live alone or have sometimes struggled to take care of our mental wellbeing.
'It can be hard not to judge or push them away. When we find ourselves wanting to do this - as we frequently will – pause and consciously take a few breathes. Become aware of the connection of your feet to the ground, your posture and the areas against which your body makes contact – it only takes a few moments. Then, ‘look’ again at what you see – but this time as an invitation to sit gently with whatever arises. If our approach can be one of enquiry and interest, rather than defence, we may find our initial reaction lessening. What we’re seeking to create is a connection with ourselves that is rooted in self kindness and compassion for anything we experience. There are many excellent and free apps that can help you practice this.
'Take frequent moments throughout the day to check in with yourself.'
'You might wish to spend some time reflecting on what has been revealed. As songwriters and composers, with a strong connection to inner creativity, you may feel moved to express your insights in another form – writing, painting or dancing for yourself as a means of discovery and adventure.
'It’s also important for us to find different and positive ways to connect with each other, whether through social media platforms as well as picking up the phone to talk with friends and family.
'Take frequent moments throughout the day to check in with yourself. Days may vary, sometimes it just might all feel a bit too much, and that’s okay. Limit your exposure to the news, whilst still keeping informed. Find a basic routine that works for you. Change and adapt according to what you need. Very few things are rigid and fixed in stone – take a cue from nature when going out on your daily walk – look closely at the emerging life all around. Take heart that this too will pass and another season will emerge.'
Last week, in partnership with PRS for Music and PRS Foundation, the Members’ Fund launched an Emergency Relief Fund. The fund is designed to help those facing significant financial pressure as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. It is available to writer members who have been a PRS member for at least two years and have earnt over £500 in royalties. Head here for more on how to apply.
If you would like to donate to the PRS for Music Emergency Relief Fund, you can do so here.