Ray Aged 20

One of the hardest things has been finding motivation, I’m at university and it all went online.  The 1st semester it was fine but by the 2nd semester It was really hard. I was realizing the effect of being on a laptop for 5 hours a day and spending so much time on tech. It isn’t a natural way to live as human beings. I think we all have an in built anti –depressant, which is having contact and physical contact with other people.

We really struggled as a family with things like the mosque being closed, it’s a social space as much as a spiritual space. We pray in rows and are encouraged to make physical contact with each other, even if it’s just an elbow and when we finish praying, we shake hands, hug and smile at each other. When the mosque was open we had to stay 2 meters apart from each other, that was really hard, our natural ant-depressant was taken away and that had a big impact over time.  I say this as someone who has been in quite a privileged position, I have had my family around me and I can’t imagine how hard it would have been for other people who have been alone.  I have felt really lucky as I live in a house with space in it, have a nice garden and a huge beautiful park 30 seconds away.  My gran lives ten minutes away and we were in a bubble with her, I really felt the huge benefit of these things, I have felt lucky and grateful.

I found that I really benefited from life slowing down and being able to reprioritize. As a religious family it’s been about remembering the most important fundamental things in life, slowing and calming things down and having moments of stillness has been really valuable. Our lives are normally so hectic, jam packed, packing everything into every moment because it makes money for people.  We are always trying to do too much, we aren’t present then and at the end of the day we are tired and end up zoning out and binging on Netflix, it’s all so unbalanced. I was reading the Quran a lot and it’s about being present and properly interacting with people. As a Muslim we do 5 daily prayers as part of our daily practice I realized that sometimes I was rushing around and just doing them out of habit but the point is to stop and really practice them.

My mum joined a gardening group which was funded by the government because they realize the impact gardening and nature have on our mental health. Gardening and nature is a really important part of our religion. My mum’s course was really valuable, she was learning things, planting things and then being able to eat the fruits of her labor, a cherry tomato you have grown yourself tastes different from the one from the supermarket, you respect it more. I got into foraging which really helped me connect with nature, I watched you tube videos to help me identify what was safe, I foraged mushrooms, wild garlic, berries, I found sweet chestnuts and we put them in a stew for the family, that was really nice.

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