By Ann Russell
Wise words to help with staying sane during coronavirus!
At the weekend, after a week or so of not being out and about as usual, I began to privately consider the fact that a ‘”lockdown’” was going to be a real possibility this week. How would I stay occupied at home without going stir crazy? Then, I realized I’d already gone through something similar last year.
Although the context is different, I was intermittently housebound for weeks at a time. In short, although the threat to health was not as serious as COVID-19, I did have to consider ways of remaining at home, dealing with chronic pain and immobility without going a little weird. As we are now socially isolating, I’m practicing what I preach.
I should say that I’m not a medical expert on physical or mental health, but here are ten tips that work for me. I hope this helps you in some small way to stay sane during coronavirus. Take care and stay safe.
1. This world-wide situation is out of our hands and socially isolating for ages can appear interminable. We have to take each day as it comes and go with the flow. We can only worry about stuff that we can directly make a difference to. It means we need to stay in the moment. Thinking ahead and about the ‘what if’s’ will make you all the more anxious, so don’t do it. If you are able to get outside and take exercise, then go for a daily walk. You will discover the benefit of being in nature ~ even in town you will hear the birds. It will make the time staying at home more bearable.
2. Establish a routine so that life continues to feel a semblance of normality. Tempting though it might be to stay in your pajamas, change into something resembling work clothes or every-day clothes. Maybe now is the time to spring clean your wardrobe, like you keep promising yourself? Your clothes probably won’t be getting as dirty as usual but doing laundry at the weekend will keep you out of mischief.
3. Know who you can rely on to help you out if need be ~ a friend, family member or neighbor. I knew who I could contact if I needed to get to an appointment, for example.
4. When life seems overwhelming, know who can guarantee to make you laugh. Be prepared to return the favor.
5. Do what brings you joy! Just because we are not allowed to move freely, doesn’t mean our daily lives will become impossible. Rediscover Yoga or Pilates via YouTube. Read all the books you intended to but never got around to reading. Watch your favorite films. Binge watch Netflix! Enjoy your garden ~ as there is less background noise of human activity, the birds sound really chirpy and noisy. Perhaps do a little weeding. Or maybe your garden needs an overhaul? Now is the time to plan your next project. The time will come when we can be let loose at the Garden Centre. At some point, I’m going to dust down my sewing machine and find my stash of materials. The fact that I can’t see to thread the needle, even with my glasses, is neither here nor there.
6. Keep a Gratitude Diary. Cheesy as it sounds, focusing on the positive changes your mindset quite quickly. You don’t have to write reams, just bullet point three things that have made you happy each day. It could be something as simple as the sun was shining.
7. Technology comes into its own at times like this and is a fantastic way to stay in touch with family and friends. This is especially important if they are required to self-isolate and not to leave the house at all for 12 weeks because of the higher risk to COVID-19. Already I’ve heard about on-line “pub quizzes,” book clubs or karaoke. Get creative! Share humorous stories and jokes ~ it sounds trite, but we all need laughter now more than ever.
8. If like me you are known as the strong and resilient one among family and friends, it is all the more important to take care of your mental health and emotional needs. Make sure you create the space to “take five.” Simple meditation or breathing exercises can calm you down when you feel your head starting to ache, or your heart start to pound. I love the sound of rain and thunderstorms, so I have a playlist of “Earth Sounds – Sounds of the Earth.” It’s wonderful to play and makes me relaxed. I listen through headphones (to block out background noise) and focus on my breathing. Click here for more tips on managing anxiety.
9. Remember to eat well. Don’t stuff your face with junk food. You’ll only regret it when this blows over (and it will). Nevertheless, a treat will not do any harm and will be positively beneficial (I’m talking to myself here as much as anyone). As a by the by, last year I gave up refined sugar 247 days ago at time of writing ~ not that I’m counting ~ my joints are thanking me. So on top of everything else at the moment, I don’t have to worry about sugar cravings. I realize that this may not be pertinent to you, but I am grateful for small mercies.
10. Although I am that resilient person I can be prone to catastrophising (typical Gemini)! Now is most definitely not the time, especially if you have children in the house. They mirror what they see and you don’t want to make them unduly anxious. Any explanation to children should be age appropriate and child lead. Don’t be the drama queen or slate the government ~ it’s not appropriate right now. Social media and the media are a mixed blessing as they can be a toxic mixed bag of hysteria, misinformation and hearing the same thing over and over. Limit your time (I’m avoiding Twitter for the most part) and choose your source of COVID-19 information from a reliable source, and not Carol down the Co-Op. In terms of updates, perhaps just listen in to the PM’s daily news feed if you’re in the UK. Don’t be that person that posts a running commentary on the virus. It’s simply not helpful.
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Ann Russell was a former nurse and midwife in the UK and Western Australia before becoming a writer. She recently finished her debut novel, The Longing and is writing her next one, The Old Green Bicycle. Find out more about Ann on her website. You can also follow her on Instagram where she is WriterInTheAttic