Thank you for joining us for this week’s blog. During our last blog, we focused on gratitude, something that we can all be practicing more often during these difficult times. A week later, and we find ourselves continuing the fight for safety by isolating and social distancing ourselves. To put it bluntly: Things are weird right now.
Everything you read and worry about, and everywhere you look is one thing: COVID-19. It is all-consuming and seems to have taken control of everything we once knew as “normal”. Now we are forced, out of the best for our loved ones and neighbours, to find a new normal.
This time can become a real test of our relationships and our own mental health. This challenging time is tough to navigate, even for those who have the best coping strategies. The reason? We are social beings! We crave the interactions of others, in one way or another (even those of us that might identify as introverts). While our dreams this time of year usually focus on taking a trip to somewhere warm and sunny with our friends and family – our focus has now shifted to maybe just a walk outside, or to the closest coffee shop to support our local businesses.
So, here’s the real question: What can we do to make the best of this “new normal”?
Tips for functioning well in isolation
Keep it simple.
There are many things we can do to get through this tough time, especially now that we have extra time to focus on attempting these strategies.
We have listed some tips for how to tackle being in isolation – but remember: do not attempt all of them at once; start by choosing one a day and see how it feels; KEEP IT SIMPLE: it will feel much more natural and ultimately fit easier into your day.
- Limit your social media and media consumption. You might think: this is my only way to connect to others! Well, that’s not true – we have phones for phone calls, text messages, video chats and emails, which are all excellent ways to connect with someone on a personal level. You will feel heard, connected, and validated, which will be much more satisfying than reading status updates or memes.
- Use only trusted sites to inform yourself. There is a lot of information out there that is irrelevant to you in your home. When we have too much information, it can seem overwhelming and impossible to make an impact. Focus on what is happening in Canada, and more specifically, Alberta. This will help you make good decisions about what is best for you and your family. This will help with your worry or possible anxiety, knowing what you CAN do.
- Talk to someone you love every day. Using the outlets, we highlighted in option #1, try having a conversation without talking about COVID-19: reminisce about a favourite memory; tell a funny story; talk about a favourite show or workout; tell the other person why you love them and why they are important to you. Limiting the conversation about COVID-19 also helps to ease the focus on it, therefore producing less worry.
- Have a Schedule. As human beings, we thrive on structure. It gives us a sense of accomplishment, safety in knowing what to expect for the day, and control in the impact we can make. Start small! Make general time windows that you would like to have something done by. Then progress by incorporating more windows and more guidance. Be gentle with yourself; it is great to include days where we don’t accomplish much, as a break is always nice and needed. Do what feels right to you, and you will feel successful.
- Move! Start small and simple. Do what fits into your day that will be likely to happen. Maybe the morning is best or halfway through the day when you need an energy boost (or to keep warm from sitting at the desk). Some ideas for simple movements:
- Stretching – there are many free YouTube workout videos.
- Walk/run up the stairs in your house a few times.
- When the weather is warm, walk around your block or to the mailbox.
- Some local gyms are offering online classes to help support their members (check with your gym to see if this is available).
- Listen to your own instinct. Your instincts exist for a reason, and we should listen to them. Being in line with our own instincts creates less worry and will guide you in the right direction of what is best for you. This is where you will have the most significant impact on how you are feeling.
Armed with these strategies and the right information, you can make an impact on your mental health function at home in isolation.
We are still here.
If you have tried some of these strategies and feel like your mood, energy or feelings have not shifted, we are still here. In this great world of technology, we can come to you via phone call or video chat. Fortunately, because we have these mediums to see/chat with you, we have more availability and can see you sooner. This is an unprecedented time, and it might be the best time to get the support you need. Many still have access to their benefits, and we can direct bill many insurance companies.
If you are interested in counselling or would like to speak to a member of our team, please contact us, we would be happy to speak with you.