“We are living in Unprecedented Times” this seems to have become the slogan for 2020, used to excess by politicians and world leaders globally- but it does ring true.
We have been exceedingly lucky in WA, proactive and strict measures have granted us a reprieve from what is one of the most devastating events we will see in our lifetimes. But still, the financial fall out has hit so many of us hard and with 104,000 jobs lost, there are few who have not suffered some form of repercussion through this process.
Hand in hand with this mass unemployment, comes soaring mental health concerns. The black dog institute estimates that as many as 33% of Australians are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety surrounding the pandemic. So what can we do to keep from feeling so lost and to stay grounded during this time? I have compiled a short list of 7 little things you can do to maintain normalcy during this time- never underestimate how much little actions can affect our overall well-being.
- Keep a Routine
Routines are important! Without routine most will feel aimless and lose motivation. Even if you are not currently working get up at a reasonable time, have a shower, get dressed, make breakfast and stick to regular meal times through the day. For those working from home, it is important to still keep a separation between “work” and “home”. Set up an area of your home as your office, stick to regular ‘office’ hours and get dressed for work- tempting though it is so move straight from bed to desk in one’s PJ’s. Studies show that having a routine has a positive impact on stress levels.
- Practice Mindfulness/Meditate
“Mindfulness is the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at the moment — free from distraction or judgment, and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them.” Headspace.com has some exercises for beginners. A very simple meditation exercise to do before bed is to lay comfortably and focus on each part of your body from your head (how does your head feel on the pillow, be aware of the fabric on your cheek etc) and simply take 4 slow, deliberate breathes before moving on progressively down shoulders, arms, chest, legs to your feet. Do this slowly and deliberately. It is incredibly relaxing and I frequently am asleep before the exercise is finished; which leads to the next point-
Science tells us for repair and growth our bodies need an average of seven and a half hours sleep a night. While asleep brain chemistry is restored, emotions rebalanced, and memories consolidated. Immune response, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, bone density, Alzheimer’s, anxiety and depression amongst many other medical conditions are made worse by poor, irregular, sleep habits.
In a time where many of us are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to acknowledge positives in our lives. Before bed, say out loud or even better write 3 things you are grateful for that day. By writing this down you have something to go back on when you are feeling a little lost.
- Stay Connected
Humans are social creatures by nature, we do not do well in solitary conditions- so reach out to friends and family. We live in an incredible time for social connectivity through such applications as Zoom, and there are some great apps such as Houseparty which allow multiple entrants to play together. So why not have a family games night? I recently attended an online birthday dinner, we all ordered in and web chatted together across Australia from our homes, it was really nice to see my niece watching The Wiggles whilst we had dinner with her parents.
- Set a Goal
It doesn’t matter if it is small, set yourself a goal for the day. Chose how many steps you wish to do, try a new recipe for dinner, apply for 3 Jobs, read a chapter of a text book in a subject you wish to know more on; make your bed.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you cannot do the little things right, you will never do the big things right. And, if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made—that you made—and a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better. If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.” William McRaven
- Sunshine and Water
Vitimin D is very important in our everyday health. It promotes the body’s production of Serotonin which is associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Vitamin D is also linked with improved bone health. As for water, everyone knows we need it. An adult should be consuming around 2L a day for woman and 3L a day for men every day. Correct water consumption helps flush waste from the body, improves brain function, leaves your skin clearer, helps with nutrient absorption, improves circulation, is good for your joints and much much more- in summery its important, drink the water, just do it.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, don’t suffer alone. Reach out to friends or family. There are also many support services out there you can contact anonymously if you wish.
Beyond Blue- 1800 512 348, Online forum or Chat also available
Lifeline- 13 11 14, 24hour support line
“Sleep” By Dr Anthony Norris.