As we all go into lock-down, and physical distancing and social connection to tackle the flattening of the curve, I am acutely aware of the impact on clients and their families.
Anxiety is on the rise and is cause all sorts of problems, such as sleeplessness, higher alcohol consumption, and less healthy eating habits. In such stressful times, it’s easy to lose track of healthy routines as we slip into daily pyjama wearing, snacking all day and staying up late.
This is however the time when we really need to focus on creating new schedules to fit in with our new life style.
While we main Physical Distance from each other, it’s important to maintain Social Connection to help reduce anxiety and maintain good mental health.
You can still connect with people. The people you live with and friends and family. Talking with them over the garden fence, on the telephone, via the myriad of online platforms available and online message platforms.
You can also still wave and chat to your friends at the dog park, just remember to keep your distance. Don’t bunch up.
Reach out to your support networks. You can be there for them, as much as they can be there for you. If you live alone, it will help you feel less isolated and less lonely.
You can leave the house to exercise. I have noticed an increase in walker and cyclists in the park behind my house and they are all keeping the suggested, or more two metres between each other. If using exercise equipment, please remember to wipe it down with either soap and water or Glen 20 before and after use, this also applies to children playground equipment.
Getting out in the fresh air and exercising is a very good way to help maintain routine or create a new one.
As you can imagine this is paramount at the moment. Wash your hand for 20 seconds with soap and water, and dry. Use hand sanitiser if you have it, but if you don’t just wash your hands often. As suggested about, make sure unfamiliar surfaces are clean before touching them.
I made this video of hand washing based on one that I saw but couldn’t find.
Your mind may try and trick you
Don’t let it. Remember who is in control here. You might find yourself thinking, I’m going to get sick, and ruminating on that thought. You may get sic, but them you may not. Letting yourself keep going over that thought is not helpful. What could you think instead? Maybe, If I take all the right measures I can reduce the chance of getting sick, this is more helpful. It will drive a more healthy mind set.
If you are struggling with healthy thought patterns you may wish to connect with your support network, write the unhelpful thoughts, or contact a professional for independent guidance.
Build a new routine
As the work and weekend days will now look a little different, take some time to design the new routine. You used to get up and travel to work. Now you have a little more time, maybe use that extra time in the AM to go for a walk or eat a healthy breakfast.
Work in blocks of about 45 minutes, it'll help with concentration (this is a studying tip i was given at uni). Without the constant interruption of colleagues, phones, emails and general office noise, you might find yourself more productive. Allow for that in your work time breaks.
Get dressed for work. As tempting as it is to stay in your PJs, you may like to wear something different for work time, to put you in the mood. It may even be different PJs. Click on the picture for some more ideas.
Allow yourself a little time to get used to the new routine. Any big change can take a little getting used too, so don't be too hard on yourself or family, if they slip up every now and then.
Facts facts facts
Switch off from social media on occasion, especially notice boards and groups populated with ‘outsiders’. These can have a tendency to be filled with speculation, hear-say and untruths. This can fuel unhelpful thought patterns and lead to rumination.
Stick to reliable sources of information, such as World Health Organisation, Department of Health and for news, Australia Government. Try to check in once or maybe twice a day. Only consume the news you can handle, know your limits and switch off when you want too.
Get it out of your head
Write down how you are feeling. This can help you process the thoughts and analyse what is true and is not. There’s an article I wrote about journalling here, it contains suggested rules and enough prompts to last a month.
Don’t ignore your mind or body
If you are feeling stressed and anxious, acknowledge it. Holding it in, only leads to a build-up, and that can be harmful. If the feelings continue, reach out to your support networks or contact a professional. A list of resources/support services can be found here.
If your employer provides an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) this would be a very good time to use it. It is free and confidential.
These are a few pointers from WHO on self-isolating:
People to stay at home, except for when accessing medical care or for necessities.
You should avoid going to work or using public transport.
Use Grocery delivery services if possible but ask the delivery driver to leave the items outside.
Whilst at home, you should separate yourself from others by staying in a ventilated room.
Try to use a separate bathroom if possible and avoid sharing household items like towels.
If you do need to visit your doctor, you should call ahead of your visit so they can minimise impact with others.
If you suspect you may have the virus, please collect any waste like tissues or masks, double bag and kept until you have been cleared. If not cleared, they should be disposed of in medical waste.
Take care of yourselves. The Secret Keeper is continuing to operate via phone and online. Please call or email if you’d like to talk.