Adapting and finding the positives

Small positives can be found in those mundane routine changes

Mental Health Staff Champion Dave Poole (Department of Methodology) shares his experience of staying well and adapting to the situation.

We've all been impacted by the big obvious changes to the world, but it's also important to consider the small things.

A huge part of my own mental wellbeing has always been routine, specifically around exercise and fitness. I enjoy the sense of accomplishment when a goal is set and achieved. As well as our event plans, usual ways of working and ways that we interact with each other we have all experienced changes in our mundane everyday routines.

I didn't consider that the seemingly innocuous things like changing my shopping habits, pretty much all conversations becoming centred on one topic or even just having to fill the extra time at home would have an impact on me but as I look back, things like this did. The thing I really missed though, was my usual exercise schedule.

I usually go to the gym every day before work and love this part of my day. Over the past couple of years, I'd built regimented daily and weekly schedules that probably don't sound appealing to many others, but we're all different! When I could no longer do this, my mental wellbeing took a pretty huge hit.

However, this led to me finding alternatives and to picking out the positives. I can still exercise at the same time and having no commute gives me extra time to train. Runs outside in the early morning sunshine are brilliant and I was able to cobble together a ‘home gym’ of online purchases and equipment family members sent me.

In the same way, small positives can be found in those mundane routine changes. New shopping habits mean trying out new shops, different foods and making different meals. COVID-19 might lead our conversations but I find that we are all making much more of an effort to connect with those important to us. And those extra hours at home I mention have made me read all the dusty books on my shelves!

We've all had to adapt to a radical change and I don't want to make light of it. There will be times when it can have big, negative impacts on your mental wellbeing – but we are all well aware of this. I want to try and offer a little light in the darkness. As well as the LSE Staff Wellbeing pages and amazing information from mental health charity Mind, please do try to find the small positives in the changes that you have made.

My final example is a really special moment that I experienced when exercising in a local park last weekend. I'd just finished a tough routine and my sense of achievement matched the warm, early morning sun and birdsong. The park was still empty and I felt so happy I took this picture!


Dave Pool, June 2020