I keep hearing the phrase this is the ‘new normal’ and I’d like to tell you about my experience of this.

My ‘new normal’ means that we will all need to keep 2 metres apart, queuing at supermarkets and when I walk down the street with my dog making sure I don’t walk past anyone on the same bit of pavement.   

There are some people I meet with my dog who when I move out of their way who look miserable and grumpy.  They are the rare people in this ‘new normal’.  Most people smile and say thank you. Then in my local park where my dog runs free people keep 2 metres apart but smile and say Hi.  I have a few conversations about the flowers and the sunshine.  After each one of these conversations I feel a bit lighter in mood.   

My next-door neighbour offered to do part of my hedge that goes onto my garden.  My mum’s glasses broke (she is in her very late eighties) and I rang the optician who said to pop them down to him and he would look at them.  Four hours later I got a phone call and he said I could collect the glasses that were fixed.  I went into his shop and he had put the glasses down on a table in the middle of the shop and backed away.  I asked how much I owed him, and he said nothing.  I said that was really kind and he said I could owe him my undying love and devotion.  I said yes, I could but at a two-metre distance.  I picked up the glasses with the optician backed away from the table.  We both laughed and I left.   

I walked back to my car thinking what a kind man and how much better I felt.  Mmum was delighted and thanked me profusely for going.   

I came home feeling lighter in mood and thought I would be kind to myself and have a coffee and relax before I got on with the next job.   

My ‘new normal’ includes people being kind to me which leads to me being kinder to others. I feel lighter and happier after these experiences.   I feel richer because of these acts of kindness.   

My challenge for mental health week is to be kind to myself (a real challenge), to be kind to others and accept with grace the kindness that others show me.  I think by the end of mental health week if I have managed this, I will feel calm and lighter in spirit.  My ‘new normal’ looks pretty good.   

Elaine WilkesCarer Support Worker