John Griff column: Being active and helpful can fight the Covid blues

Broadcaster John Griff in his weekly Chronicle & Echo column

By John Griff
Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 3:37 pm
Updated Wednesday, 29th July 2020, 3:40 pm
Grand Prix driver Lando Norris proved he was a team player in Hungary last week  Photo by MARK THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
Grand Prix driver Lando Norris proved he was a team player in Hungary last week Photo by MARK THOMPSON/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

There’s been considerable despondency in the air recently, with understandable reason.

Families who had saved for holidays in Spain were at last cleared to jet off... only to be told on arrival that a newly-imposed governmental 14-day quarantine period awaited their return here.

Holidays have been hours rather than days long and spent in an arrivals hall, swiftly followed by an immediate return to departures and the aircraft which flew passengers out in the first place.

For others it’s been the fear and inconvenience of a possible second lockdown as coronavirus cases grow in Northampton.

And for some, the reality of short-time working, or possible redundancy having never returned from furlough.

Boris Johnson went on record in the past week saying that we’re likely to be still dealing with C-19 until this time next year, and leading economists are saying that it’ll be as long as 2024 for the country’s fortunes to return to anything like normality from recession.

With such conditions, you’d be forgiven for reaching for the switch and turning everything off.

But things could be worse. For some they have been already... much worse.

I’ve noticed a growing sense of unease in myself in the recent past. It’s like a creeping thing that threatens to overtake and, if you let it, that sense of despondency can be hard to shrug off.

The trick is to recognise it as the threat that it is and to have a coping strategy for it.

On the radio shows recently, I’ve spoken to a number of people who have been brilliant, living antidotes to that kind of depressive, resigned feeling.

And what I’ve noticed about all of them is that they are do-ers.

Without exception they have been the sort who get up and get going, whatever they do. People who have found positivity themselves by helping others, and gaining by giving time, effectively sharing the load.

The use of food banks is going to increase further than it already has, I’m sure. And the generosity of people helping out in what could be called soup kitchens is already in evidence through social media.

Much of this work had been going on for a long time already, for years in some cases.

Such people should be applauded by those of us who have looked on and I’m sure that there will be opportunities for that to happen in due course.

There are other ways to be a do-er though. I’ve talked to walkers exploring the countryside, anglers spending time on a riverbank and even DIYers clearing out cluttered sheds.

The point is that these people are being active, not passive. And in many cases their activities don’t cost much, if anything. Recently I’ve become far more observant of people and things than I used to be. It’s a good thing.

And if we can learn to recognise the threats then we can develop the coping strategies.

This weekend, the Formula 1 circus arrives at Silverstone for the first of two Grand Prix races behind closed doors.

The hundreds of thousands of fans who arrive at the circuit and surrounding campsites each year, won’t. But there’ll be teamwork going on. Twenty-year-old McLaren driver Lando Norris gave a masterclass in helping out his mechanics when, after the Hungarian Grand Prix – unprompted – he grabbed a spanner and helped strip his car down for transport to Silverstone. Not his job, he simply wanted to help. That’s unconscious leadership and those mechanics would walk over hot coals for him.

Do yourself a favour... be a do-er.