I might be the whitest person around here (Scottish roots show through the almost translucently fair skin, face full of freckles from 10 minutes out in the sunlight, and ginger-red hair), but I can’t be the only one celebrating the arrival of late spring and warm weather.
Now of course I don’t know just how you guys react to the sun being back, because hey, chances are I’ve not seen you in a couple of weeks. I can tell you though that the sun has so many wonderful benefits, both for your body and your mental health, that every chance you get to bask in it you should take it. And besides the obvious production of Vitamin D (which is a real immuno-health booster, improves your bone-health, hormone production and thereby general mood; it’s basically like a sweaty workout session packed into 10-30 minutes of putting on some shades and relaxing), it also improves your mood just by seeing how it makes life come back into dreary Leuven.
Because, and I am not here to talk ill of my self-chosen home but let’s face it, Leuven the past few weeks has just been dreary. Yes, it’s nice that there’s less people out to crowd you in this warm sunshine, and yes, the physical distancing has made it easier for many of us to focus on (as it turns out in some dramatic twist and turn of events) what is really important to us in life – and though I was the first one to squawk up, exclaim how unnecessary these measures were and how essential the gym was for mental and physical health (I’m sorry, ok, I was stupid and misinformed and being selfish), this lock-down can be as healthy and enriching as a summer course abroad to learn a new language.
Which by the way, in case you haven’t, start learning a new language on DuoLingo. And if you get far enough in it to think “now I need to practice speaking it a bit”, sign up for our Pangaea Language Chain! Just to get some social contact, too. Also, keeping your brain active and engaged is as good of a self-care treatment as pampering your skin with exfoliating and re-hydrating masks, because an inactive brain is a sad and slow brain. A little bit of cognitive stimulation could (just like a bit of physical activity every day) really improve your mood, quality of sleep, and patience with this whole situation.
An you can do something nice for your brain while having a cup of tea or coffee, leaning out of your window, basking in the sunlight. Blissful.
No, I’m not trying to get you to do that self-improvement craze I’ve been posting about what seems like once a week (I don’t even know anymore guys, days just pass and I have the memory of a starfish, don’t judge me). I’m trying to get you to do something small every day that makes you happier and feel better overall. A little bit of brain stimulation (and no I don’t mean studying, because while studying you’re not necessarily stimulating your brain, it might just be in copy-mode), a little bit of sunlight, a little time for yourself to relax and get in touch with what you need right now – that’s what we’re going for here. Keeping healthy in an unhealthy situation, keeping positive when everything tries to tear you down, not letting the situation you have no control over break your spirit for longer than a few days – that’s strength, and it’s what you have and it’s what you need to tap into right now. You’re not alone in this, and we can make it through this together. Give yourself a chance to make it through this and come out on the other side ok. Together, we got this.
“Together” can mean a lot of different things. If this situation is just too much and too overwhelming, reach out. Pangaea staff are open for a chat if you want to get in touch, and don’t forget the KUL is offering more mental health care providers now for you to get easier access to an extra helping hand. The least beneficial thing you can do right now is pass it off as not being worth it – you can feel good even in these dramatic times, and if it call for a bit of a ‘dramatic’ action, then don’t be afraid to be ‘dramatic’. Your well-being is worth it.
Sending hugs to you all!