-By Sara Picken-Brown
We are now entering into week three of isolation and lockdown, with the death toll rising still daily, the seriousness of this global situation cannot be ignored. But how are you dealing with these challenges? How are you feeling? Like many people, myself included, you may oscillate between feeling quite comfortable and fine with working from home and getting on with living a ‘new normal’. To having moments (from fleeting to not so fleeting) of panic, anxiety and the overwhelming sense that there appears no end in sight to this situation. How long are we going to have to live like this? Are we going to have our ability to go outside for our dose of sunshine and fresh air taken from us, as well as our ability to move around freely. It all seems like some bad dream that we desperately want to wake from but can’t. Sound like you? You are not alone in these feelings, I would suggest that everyone has had variations of these emotional responses somewhere on the spectrum.
What can we do to navigate this challenge together with grace, equanimity and calm?
Maintain a routine
We are creatures of habit, and routines give us comfort and create a sense of security. Creating a new ‘normal’ can be a challenge at first, but setting a plan that enters around waking times, meal times and exercise sessions is a great way to build routine with variety into your day. Breaking the day into 30 min or 60min blocks also gives your mid something to focus on in the present moment, wth a clear direction to what is going next.
Routines create a sense of structure and control over your environment, which is important to balance that all consuming feeling of loss of control over your basic freedoms and key aspects of your life.
Continue to manage your finances responsibly
Much of the fear and anxiety being felt currently stems from the uncertainly around job security, finances flowing into and out of the household. Take this time to review your budgets, review your income streams and all the support the government is providing. Being applying to the relevant schemes open to you.
If you own a small business, investigate how you can participate in the relief options available. If you have been affected by job losses or salary cuts, speak to your financial services providers and make arrangements to maintain your credit rating, and ensure that your policies remain active. Look at where you can be refunded monies for trips, events or services that have been cancelled.
Managing your mental health and well-being amid COVID-19 lockdown.
With the lockdown in full swing, you may find yourself alone or with family members that you normally wouldn’t be with. If being in self-isolation is making you feel anxious – you are not alone. Connect with groups via WhatsApp contact, fitness sessions online are a great way to connect with familiar or new faces and MEETup groups online are also a great way to keep the social connection amid isolation alive. No, it is not the same as face to face live contact, but understanding that others are having experiences mirrored by your own can offer comfort.
Eat well, get some sun and exercise
Nourishing food, 30-60min of sunlight a day and keeping hydrated are essential to maintaining your physical and mental well-being. Exercising at home is a great way to boost feel good hormones, have a set appointment to break up your day and see a smiling face o the other end of the computer to boost your spirits. Make sure you also follow a self- maintainance routine; get up, make your bed, shower, get dressed ready for your day. These simple steps will put you in a mentally positive space and help maintain a routine of self-care. The Mental Health Foundation has also issued advice to people stuck in isolation on how to manage the stress caused by Covid-19. “At times of stress, we work better in company and with support. Try and keep in touch with your friends and family, by telephone, email or social media, or contact a helpline for emotional support,” their advice says.
The information and updates of this pandemic globally are a very fluid situation. Staying informed is vital to know what government directives and plans are. The key is to stay informed, but stay calm. Choose how much you take in and the sources you get the information from. Defer to organisations such as WHO, NICD and universities that properly research the information they publish.
As with any situation there is the dissolution of the old and the rebirth of the new. As we navigate this global collective rebalancing along with our individual private rebalancing, there is great opportunity to grow and learn from our reactions, our fears, our responses and all that we have taken fro granted. Taking five to ten minutes a ay to reflect on both your internal state and the emotional peaks and troughs your experience can be the most insightful guide to where profound learning can occur in your life and how you navigate the exit from isolation when this experience comes to an end. Which it will, nothing is permanent. The key is how will you be different physically, emotionally and psychologically when it does end?