At this current moment, we are going through a pandemic. Coronavirus, or COVID-19, has hit countries all around the world and has seen many people suffering from it’s ill-effects. One thing that Australians have been asked to do is to self-isolate and stay at home as much as possible. But, it’s not as easy as it seems for many people.
With isolation brings the overwhelming feelings of loneliness, sadness and stress. As well as having a mind full of details about Coronavirus, what is happening in our homes and towns, our countries and families across the world, many have been facing job losses or transitions to working from home. How do you maintain a sense of wellbeing and your mental health throughout all of this?
Re-evaluate Your Expectations
Initially, you may have thought that isolation would bring about an excess of time to finally complete your novel, lazy afternoons watching your favourite movies or perhaps the resources to gain a new skill. But, this isn’t the case for everyone.
Many people have suddenly had to work out how to teach their children from home, how to set up a home office or even, how to gain help from the Government after losing their job. Working on your novel may be the last thing on your mind! This is the time to re-evaluate your expectations of what isolation looks like for you.
Depending on your own circumstances, it may be simply to take on each day and help your children learn as much as they can from an online classroom. Your daily goal may just be to get to the shops for the essentials and that’s it. However way you approach your days, it’s important to focus on what works for you and your situation. Don’t feel that you aren’t doing enough because people around you seem to have it all together.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
When it comes to stress, we need a substantial amount of sleep and rest in order for our bodies to process that stress and feel relaxed again. If you’re constantly staying up past two in the morning and waking early, chances are you’re going to be feeling overwhelmed and increasingly tired as the days go on.
Now is the time to continue to practice good sleep hygiene. Continue to have a set bedtime, avoid blue lights before bed. As well as this, try to continue to eat a healthy diet. That includes not overindulging on fatty foods and alcohol. For some people, this is quite a stressful time and you may feel tired throughout the day, even after a full nights’ sleep. If you need to, a quick nap in the afternoon may be just what you need in order to feel better again.
Understand Your Stressors
Knowing what triggers your stress levels is important throughout these unprecedented times. If going on social media and seeing your friends and family seemingly getting through isolation easily, avoid going on social media. If reading news headlines makes you feel tired and stressed, avoid reading or watching the news. Understand what helps you get through isolation and what doesn’t. That way, you can make the effort to avoid certain factors that you know aren’t going to be beneficial to your mental health.
One of the hardest things about isolation is not seeing friends and family that you would normally see. You aren’t able to go out for drinks, dinner or quick catch-ups with friends at the moment, which can be really hard to get used to. But, it’s still important to stay connected with those you care about.
Where possible, enjoy a video call with friends or family. Although it might not feel the same as heading to your favourite cafe together, it’s still useful for improving your mental health, staying connected and reducing feelings of loneliness. Whether it’s Facetime, Skype or an app that enables you to virtually hang out with numerous people at once, make sure to stay in touch with people you care about.
Now is a stressful time for many people. There are many people who are finding isolation a stressful time. While some may paint it as a good time to get to know yourself, enjoy some free time and gain a new skill, it’s not the case for many people, especially those with young children who are still expected to work from home. If possible, remember to relax and de-stress at home, but also remain in contact with the people you care about to help reduce anxiety and stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed by current events and need professional help, you can also contact Beyond Blue for confidential counselling.