Author: Claire Ebstein
I’d love to say that I am nailing isolation, working from home and home-schooling but the truth is, I am taking this one day at a time. Some days are good, some are ok and some are downright terrible! I have reflected on the past few weeks and shared my top 5 tips below on how to keep afloat and look out for others.
1. Assume people are struggling – Our mental health training normally focuses on upskilling people on how to look for signs that people may be suffering from a mental health problem. Given social distancing requirements, it is much harder to pick up on some of these sometimes subtle signs. In these times, it’s much better to assume people are doing it tough and check in from that perspective; your communication will automatically come from a place of genuine compassion.
2. Keep perspective – whilst it is hard to remember sometimes, this is a temporary situation and restrictions are already starting to ease. We are extraordinarily lucky in Australia and New Zealand, and it helps to remember that our efforts to isolate are helping to protect yourself, your family and the community.
3. Make sure you disconnect – there is so much focus on ‘connecting’ with people right now and this is vital. However, talking all day on the phone and on video conferencing apps is exhausting and draining. In our normal working days, we have far more opportunities to leave our devices behind. Right now we are spending more time in front of a screen than ever before. Make sure you take time to get away from the screen and the blue light. Go for a walk, get outside, play with your dog or your kids, meditate…whatever it takes to disconnect from the constant stimulation of screens.
4. Remind yourself that everyone has a different set of circumstances (kids, single, share house, immunocompromised, elderly parents, partners in frontline jobs) and will deal with this differently. People’s reactions when stressed will vary widely so if you observe behaviour in someone that seems short, defensive, out of character, withdrawn or downright rude, remember that they are most likely stressed. Rather than reacting back, check in with them and see how they are doing.
5. Cut yourself some slack – this is not something we’ve ever dealt with before. If you aren’t exercising as much as you’d like to or not meditating, completing 1000 piece jigsaws, mastering grade 3 Japanese, or cooking nutritious meals for the family 3 times a day that’s totally ok! If your mental commentary starts with ‘I should be doing x, y or z’ – interrupt it and delete that sentence. It’s simply not helpful.