Monday, 1 June 2020

To blog or not to blog?

A short post about blogging and mental health

If you’re a regular reader of this blog you may have noticed the ever decreasing frequency of my posts, for which there are various reasons. I’ve been thinking about things a fair bit lately and, in light of the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, I felt like sharing some of my thoughts here.

My blogging and other computer-based activities always tend to take something of a back seat in the spring and summer months, with the longer days allowing for more time in the field, as well as allotmenting and tinkering in the garden at home, but I’ve found it to be even more the case this year, what with the extraordinary circumstances we've all been living through.

I started my first blog in 2012 when I was working as a gardener for the Church of England; it was a solitary role and I was keen to share what I was seeing with others so began tweeting then blogging about my day-to-day sightings. I’ve always enjoyed producing special trip reports too, to look back on in years to come, but there’s no denying that regular blogging can sometimes end up feeling a bit like just another chore. What with recording sightings, catching up on nocmig, emails and countless other computer activities, combined with a physically draining job, I've found it can be all too easy to lose sight of why one first loved something; in my case birding which developed out of a general fascination with, and love for, the natural world.

I've always been a bit of a worrier, and the recent loss of an old friend during what are already strange and unsettling times has reminded me of the importance of valuing the present even more. My wife jokes that she’s never seen me spend so much time at home as I have in recent weeks - I’m usually rushing about all over the place - but there’s no denying I’ve learned to take more time to notice and enjoy what’s right in front of me (the BWKM0 challenge was great for that and I'm aware I never took the time to blog about that once it was over either!). It turns out that sometimes it is okay to just lie flat on your back on the lawn and do nothing, which has been a bit of a revelation for me, to be honest.

I know I’m not the only one who's found the desire to blog wane somewhat during lockdown, and even before that birders and naturalists I’ve known have said they’ve struggled to maintain prolonged enthusiasm in it, as much as they love their subject matter.

I’m not sure quite what I imagine the purpose of putting these words on here is exactly, and I'll stop soon before it gets any more self-indulgent. I’m certainly not suggesting I’m going to stop blogging altogether nor wishing to detract from the continued prolific efforts of others whom I admire - Ed Stubbs, Peter Alfrey and Steve Gale to name just three - but I suppose my message if there is one at all is, if you’re finding elements of something you love are causing you unnecessary anxiety, don’t be too hard on yourself and remember to keep focusing on what it is you enjoyed about it all in the first place.

If you're anything like me many of the things you're worrying about are not as important as you might think they are, and your physical and mental well-being will be all the better if you allow yourself time to pause.
The author in rarely seen static mode, surreptitiously photographed by Mrs Matt