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It’s been a number of months now since all our lives took on a topsy-turvy turn. None of us could’ve predicted or prepared for exactly how things would change, so we’ve been learning along the way. And good or bad, no matter how you choose to look at it, we’re making it out the other side, though not totally unscathed.
We’ve all been affected by this Covid-19, corona virus, isolation pandemic, be it physically, emotionally, mentally. And it’s how we deal with it that sets us apart, makes us stronger, closer, more able. We’ve seen the bad – come on, did you really need to fight over that toilet paper? – and the good. People have come together – from a distance – in support of each other, proving that we are a nation that care, that look out for each other.
It’s completely normal and okay to have moments where you feel totally overwhelmed. You’re working from home, probably harder than you were in the office because you feel like you have to prove to your boss that you are, in fact, working and not watching Netflix. The kids have been at home, cooped up and you’ve had to oversee their schooling (aren’t our teachers amazing), they’re annoyingly fidgety because they can’t go out and expel that building energy, they’re hungry, like all the time. And board. You’ve been stuck at home, with the same people (or no people) day in and day out. You’re anxious, fearful, your muscles are tense, you have a headache, you’re tired, you can’t sleep. You just want to leave the four walls you’ve been stuck inside and breathe some fresh, clean air. You want to walk, shop, go out. See your friends. Hug someone.
Okay, take a breath. Take a moment to pause, to collect your thoughts. This is completely normal.
These are unprecedented times. I don’t think there’s necessarily a right or wrong way to approach this as we’re all different. We all react to change and stress in different ways. You may be the kind of person that paces and pulls your hair out, or just plonks themselves on the couch. You may be climbing the walls or meditating, a lot. There are, of course better and worse ways, like sticking your head in the sand and hoping this all blows over you. But we’re all in uncharted territory. We can learn from each other – from a distance. Watch and read and take the advice of the experts.
But the most important thing, is that we take care of ourselves. We’re useless to our family, our friends, our neighbours, if we aren’t checking in with our own health and wellness. So here are a few self-care tips to help you along this road to freedom.
I know this sounds silly, but do you really take notice of your breath? Of course, breath is life, but it’s not just dragging air in and blowing it out again. Focusing on how you’re breathing can be calming and energising. It can help you settle your thoughts and ease a moment of anxiety and stress. It can also be a moment of gratitude and ground you in life.
You don’t have to go for a 10km run, but moving is important. Being sedentary for too long isn’t good for your sanity or your body. Go for a walk around the block – we’re allowed to do that. Download an app or check out Youtube for exercise programs, there are thousands out there. Do some yoga, jump on the kids’ trampoline, jog around your backyard. Find something that works for you, just as long as you move.
Yes, this can be extremely hard if you have kids, but it’s also extremely important. And it doesn’t have to be for long. Take 5 or 10 minutes to check in with yourself. Meditate if you like, you can find apps to help guide you, or just sit and feel your body go lax, just for a moment. For you.
I love reading. I think I would go insane if I didn’t read. And it’s a great way to take you out of your life and sink into someone else’s for a while.
Create a playlist of music that makes you want to move. Dance and sing; this is a great way to expel some energy, make you laugh and cry, be silly. No one’s going to judge you – and if your kids do, just show them you don’t care because you’re having fun. Create another to help you feel calm and relaxed. This can also help with sleep.
There’s this great device called a telephone. You can use it to talk to people that aren’t with you. Stay in touch with your friends and family, ask them how they’re going and share with them how you are. You could even try a Zoom meeting with a group of people.
Okay, so how many times have you gone to the fridge today? Yes, we need to watch that we aren’t emotionally eating everything, but it’s also a good time to pull out those cook books you don’t use and try something new. You can even get the kids involved.
It can be depressing hearing all the updates, stories and negative news day in and day out, especially when you have so many places you can hear it from – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TV, Radio… It’s important to be informed, but there is such a thing as flooding your brain with too much. Sometimes it helps to just switch it off.
This is great to help you take back some sense of control and put you on steady ground. It can be as simple as going through that stack of paper on the corner of the dining room table or going through your wardrobe. It will bring you a sense of accomplishment and stability.
There really is so much you can do to ensure you’re taking care of yourself. It doesn’t have to be hard, or take hours of your day. And it shouldn’t stop after all this has passed. Mental, physical and emotional health and wellness is vital to your body working as it should, for you getting through each day, for all of us as we navigate through these changes.
And raising you hand and saying “I need help” is not a weakness. In fact, it takes a great deal of strength to admit and ask for help. If you’re overwhelmed and feel bogged down and are struggling to make your way through all this, please speak to someone. Call your GP, call Beyond Blue, Lifeline, Headspace, SANE Australia… There is help out there. Don’t be afraid to ask for it.
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636
Lifeline 13 11 14
Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800