With the third weekend upon us, Isolation 2.0 brings its own set of challenges and a raft of emotions for us all. Here are some tools you may wish to utilise to navigate your way through this time.
You Do You
It is important to remember your experience is individual, so try not to compare yourself to others. If you see your friend, colleague, neighbour looking chirpy and chipper, and believe you ‘should’ be feeling the same way, it really minimises your own experience. It’s ok to feel the way you feel. That is your right as a human being. Be cautious about what you are viewing on social media also. Many people tend to show only the highlights of their life, and may not share that after their post of looking fabulous by the pool, they flop on the couch with a bag of chips and a glass of wine.
If someone you knew was experiencing the feelings you are, what would you say to them? Would you tell them to get over it and toughen up? Or would you gently remind them that they are doing their best? Think about your own self-talk and how compassionate you are being towards yourself. If you find yourself being compassionate towards others more than for you for yourself, tap into that feeling of compassion, and turn some of it inwards.
We hear about counselling and seeking professional help, and sometimes we have a negative view about it or it just seems to be words. So how about re-framing to simply talking to someone? Talking to someone who won’t judge, or not know what to say, or get affected by your experience? Sometimes we worry about burdening others with our problems or experiences. A counsellor is there to walk alongside you, and they are trained to manage their own experience so it won’t impact you. You don’t need to worry about them, and just know they are there to listen to you.
I’m going to remind you about gratitude because there are days when we might feel like there is nothing to be grateful for. ‘I have to wear a mask to go outside, why should I be grateful??’ But there is always something to be grateful for. The kind words of a colleague, your morning coffee, running water, a warm place to sleep. We can easily take these things for granted, so remind yourself of those things that you are grateful for today. And remember, you might just be the part of someone’s day that they are grateful for.
It’s not always easy to have a structured or even a long break during the day but make the effort where you can. Grab a cup of tea, a walk around the block, eat your lunch sitting down looking out the window. Whatever you can do to reset and refocus means you can put more into the rest of the day. Try not to just take a break when you get exhausted; recharge your batteries before they run out. If you can structure your breaks, get into a healthy routine and perhaps set a reminder in your calendar to take a break. Without others around us to say ‘hey I’m going to grab a coffee, want one?’ it can be easy to power on and forget.
While it is vital to focus on our own health and wellbeing, doing something kind for others can also bring a sense of fulfilment and peace. Can you donate to your favourite charity? Or send a care package to your friend? Deliver a meal to your grandparents? Clean out your wardrobe and donate some clothes to FICE? Caring for others is so important, and it just might leave you feeling better too.
There are so many courses available online these days, making learning more accessible than ever for a lot of people. Whether it’s for fun (i.e. belly dancing through the Hub) or improving life skills (i.e. Smart Money – Financial Wellness through the RTO), learning something new expands our life experience. It’s also a great way to meet and connect with others.
More the norm than ever, meditation is recognised as a useful exercise for our minds. It can seem daunting if you don’t understand it, so use a guided meditation app like Smiling Mind or Headspace to help you along. Meditation isn’t a relaxation practice – it’s like a gym workout for your mind! You can learn to be more mindful by just focusing on your breath. Think about times when you’ve been living in the past, or stressing about the future. Mindfulness gets your right back to the present moment, where you just focus on what is happening here and now. You can then decide, what will I do next? Ok, I’ll just put the kettle on. I’ll get a mug from the cupboard. I am calm. I am safe.
I got a fancy pedometer watch that pretty much electrocutes me when I need to get up and move…despite it doing this I still put it on every day! It is a good reminder to get my steps up. Yes, I need to don a mask if I walk outside. I can also exercise inside, with equipment or an online video to follow. It’s amazing how exercise improves our mental, and of course physical, health. So get up and go. Start small and build yourself up.
Studies have shown that listening to music reduces your heart rate, lowers blood pressure and increases serotonin which makes you feel happy. You can also have a little jig around the house to get you moving, sing out load to give your lungs a bit of exercise and take a trip down memory lane when listening to those songs from years gone by.
I hope this helps give you some food for thought about the things you can do to support yourself and others through this time. You got this.
Take care, and be kind to yourself.