Corona Virus continues to spread across Australia and despite the changes we are all making, it doesn’t look like we will be coming out the other side for a while yet.
That’s ok. It’s ok that everything is in a state of flux right now. It’s ok that we don’t quite know what to do and we don’t have a firm deadline on when these actions will end. What we can do is be kind to ourselves right now and make sure that self-isolation isn’t isolating, and isn’t debilitating. Here are some things to try.
While right now reaching out might seem like the last thing you want to do with all the emotional overwhelm we are feeling, the worst thing you can do for your mental health is to retreat in on yourself completely and detach from your colleagues, your family and friends. Instead, reach out to someone you haven’t heard from this week and ask how they’re doing. Make an effort to speak positively with them, rather than lamenting at the current situation. Try to find some silver linings.
If you can, have conversations on video and speak to people in the most face-to-face way you can right now. Seeing other people’s faces incites a different response in us as humans, as opposed to just hearing their voice. Make your incidental human interactions, like at the checkout, more positive. Say thank you to all those people tirelessly working trying to keep our country running – they’re doing a good job, a hard job and they deserve kindness from the rest of us.
We aren’t just dealing with self-isolation here. We are also dealing with emotional exhaustion on the back of a huge 6 months here in Australia that have been fraught with stress. We have to be at home, we have to slow down so now is the time to actively practice self-care. Maybe for you, that means having a bit of a cry – that’s ok. Maybe that means a glass of wine and a bath. Maybe that means lying in the grass in the sun for an hour in the middle of the day. Maybe it is about dedicating time in this period to speak to your therapist or counselor to help you to continue to process these emotions. All of these things are more than ok. Take the time to do things that will lighten the load and will give you room to breathe, instead of walking around like a tightly coiled spring. By taking the time for yourself now, you save yourself
Get outside, get moving
We know we can’t hang out for brunch or sit in a cafe right now. But there’s absolutely no reason you and your bestie can’t go for a walk in the park with a coffee and keep an appropriate distance between you. There’s no reason you can’t walk around your neighborhood and watch the sun come up over the hills. Self-isolation doesn’t mean being inside all the time – and that’s not a healthy way to look at it, mentally or physically. Get outside in an appropriate way as often as you can and enjoy the benefits of feeling less shut-in, less tight, more positive and more calm.
While the situation is constantly changing and it’s important to stay informed, there is absolutely no good that can come from refreshing news websites every 5 minutes. Nor is there anything good that can come from reading all the opinions from all the news outlets on the coronavirus and getting overwhelmed by it all. Make a commitment to yourself for your mental health to check in on the virus once a day and stick to it. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or on the evening news – check it once, be informed and then move onto something else, instead of getting overwhelmed. At some point, we all know what it is that we have to do to stay safe, protect our families and be responsible citizens in our community, and any additional information is only making us more anxious and overwhelmed. Limit the sources you are taking information from to those you truly trust – like the government websites or the ABC – and not everyone who has an opinion on the situation. Try to talk about other things with your family instead of letting this virus dominate all conversations and thoughts right now. All of these actions will help quiet the noise and ensure that you don’t careen off a cliff into breakdown waters.
We are all learning together how to best manage this new way of working, this new way of living. But we are also all in this together, and this is absolutely not forever. This is just a period of time in which we are all being asked to do things differently. Take a deep breath, let it out slowly and be kind to yourself amidst this crisis. We will all come out the other side eventually.
Nothing is good or bad, or is permanent. Bad times allow you to enjoy the good when they come… and they will.