Mental health is a real buzzword just lately, with reports that so many of us are tangibly suffering from prolonged disruption of our usual patterns of behaviour, our social gatherings, and increased uncertainty over finances and future plans.

It seems that there is an app for everything these days, and mental health is yet another problem that electronic devices claim to have answers for. 

But can we really depend on tech to solve a problem that has actually been created by denying ourselves the human presence and social contact that is necessary for physiological and emotional health?


Personally I believe we can’t.


My experience over the last few months has taught me that throwing your passions under the bus for the greater good will not make anyone happier, healthier, or more virtuous.

In fact, it’s more likely to make you angrier, bitter, and unhappy.

And these emotions when they linger unprocessed, can cause real physiological symptoms.

The changes in lifestyle during have created challenges we have all needed to address.


When You Lose the Desire to Live Because You Can’t Do What You Love

With no gyms open and more time spent inactive at home, a big problem for many was fitness, health and motivation. Many people struggle to do these things alone.

For me, the lack of my usual dance and practice regime combined with a less than optimal diet meant that I developed a bony growth on my foot. I soon realised that it wasn’t the calcified protrusion itself which was the main cause of pain – it was the strength I had lost in my core and lower body through limiting my activity.

I got so far out of shape I couldn’t bear looking at myself in the mirror for a while.

I reached the point where it was easier to give up dance altogether than to face the reality of starting from near scratch with my fitness. And when I’m unfit and out of practice with dancing my business suffers because I feel too embarrassed and ashamed to put myself out there on social media.

It was only when I realised how fast my basic mobility and function was declining that I made myself do something, because I knew if I didn’t, before too long I would be walking with a stick and a permanent limp.


Something inside me refused to let that happen.


I knew that if I got much worse I would be racked with self-hatred, bitterness, and regret. I would be hell to live with – not just for those around me, but I wouldn’t be able to stand living with me either.

And so it began…the long road back to full function. Using the only route I knew I would enjoy enough to stick with – dance. 


It’s Never as Bad as You Think

I’m not sure everyone has that point where they stop, take a good look at themselves, and then start to work out how to do what needs to be done. I only recognise it when I get there. It’s hard to break the inertia initially.

One of the interesting things about these situations is that with a sensible approach, they can be turned around a lot quicker than you realise. And you start to see and feel noticeable improvement every day.

The biggest challenge is always the days when your mood and energy are low, or when overwhelm starts to mount. These are the days I have to have contingency plans for, and be ultra-careful in the mornings to make sure I don’t drift into procrastination.

But ultimately the key is to start really small, do things that feel good enough to make you automatically want to do more of, to keep yourself accountable but not punish yourself when you don’t measure up.


Don’t Forget to Celebrate Small Successes

I’ve had a couple of celebration days lately – I managed to do a whole 1 hour mambo class in heels, pain free.

I’m able to stand on the ball of my right foot again for a few seconds without collapsing.

I’m starting to attempt some single spins – this is a huge milestone.

The sense of achievement makes me happy, and I feel like I’m starting each practice with real purpose now. Each session feels better, stronger and more precise than the last.

I’m in a lot less pain and a lot more mobile again.

I’m even planning to get out for some walking very soon – something else I love but had to stop because it was too painful.


Apps Can Be Useful But It’s You Who Has To Do The Work

My point is that mental health isn’t something that can be found externally.

Sure, electronic devices can give useful prompts and help you organise yourself to meditate and exercise, but they can’t MAKE you tell yourself the truth about what you really need and WHY you are struggling.

They can’t make you do what you talk yourself out of.

Mental health requires that you value yourself enough to put your own needs as a priority and if that includes physical presence and touch from another human, and engaging in activities which bring you joy, so be it.


To do otherwise is an admission that you are worth less than others.


And I do not believe that anyone is worth-less.