Social distancing means life looks very different now – the way we see and speak to our loved ones has changed dramatically and without warning, as have our usual routines.
For many, this has meant a loss of business, jobs and income, and we are all dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and frustration on a daily basis.
Physical distancing vs social connection
It is essential for humans to be connected to each other, but a benefit of the 21st century is that we can utilise myriad technologies to stay in touch – even from afar. We have all lost our external hobbies, group-based leisure and many of our favourite physical activities, but a number of online platforms are helping these activities continue virtually. We are able to keep exercising, socialising in groups and stay mentally active with these online programs and apps, but it is also important to call and text our friends and family often. Check-in with the elderly and vulnerable within your social circles, and also in your immediate community.
People need routine
With all this chaos and uncertainty creating feelings of distress, we need to maintain order within our individual lives. For those who are self-isolating or have lost work routines, this is especially vital. It is also important for parents to link their children up with at-home education services, to keep learning and homework as part of their routine.
Here’s how to create a daily routine and stick to it:
- Ensure that you get up and go to bed at the same time to maintain good sleep.
- Get dressed for the day.
- Have a weekend.
- Schedule meals so that you can keep your body healthy. Menu plan, make a shopping list and prep meals ahead of time. Teaching yourself to cook may be a new and necessary skill.
- Plan for social time with family, friends and work colleagues, either by phone or online.
- Identify what keeps you meaningfully engaged and seek out those activities. This could mean watching a movie, gardening, cooking, doing something creative – art, craft, music, writing – or autumn cleaning your home. Join your local library online and read, or find or create an interest group.
- Practice relaxation and/or meditation.
- Factor in exercise and if possible create an exercise space in your home.
- If possible create a work space in your home.
Limit media exposure
Set personal limits when it comes to reading or watching news about the pandemic, and only seek information from reputable sources. I recommend ABC News, the World Health Organisation and the Australian Government who now have an app and Whats app applications.
Find a mechanism that helps you release distress like a pressure valve. This may be through physical activity, joining an online support group such as AA or NA, sharing your thoughts with a trusted person, keeping a journal and writing out your thoughts and feelings, or seeing a counsellor. Stay connected with your pets if you have any – they are incredibly therapeutic and will make you smile.
Practice being in the moment rather than projecting into the unknown future, as this will trigger anxiety. Remember to bring yourself back to the present in whatever you are engaged in, no matter how mundane, and the power of a simple smile.
If you find that you need more support, Currumbin Clinic are here to help.