As we are now somewhere in the mitigation phase of COVID-19 in Ireland, it is likely we all will be in some form of self isolation or at the very least largely restricting our movements beyond our front doors for some time.
Whilst this measure is essential for public health, isolation can have a detrimental effect on your mental well being, espically if you are already suffering from any underlying issues with anxiety and depression.
Unmanaged isolation can manifest and heighten feelings of uncertainty, loneliness and disconnection from others and loved one's. It can also provide the perfect environment for reoccuring, uninteruppted negative thoughts and worries, magnifying their impact on our actions, anxiety and depression.
So it is extremely important to prepare, practice and manage your mental health routine at this time and here's some really useful tips on what you can do.
1. Keep a routine.
Routine is so important to maintain a balance in your every day and your mind. Keep to your usual bed times and wake up times.
Even if you dont have to get up for work, college, school, set your alarm for the same time as if you were and rise for the day ahead. This goes the same for bed time. Just because you dont have work, college or a school run the next day is not a good enough excuse to binge on Netflix into the wee hours. You can leave that for the weekend.
2. Replace normal activities with positive ones.
Now that the daily activities of work, school etc. are gone, you have been gifted more time to be with yourself and/or with your immediate family. This is the time to replace those usual activities with positive ones, that reinforce a sense of creativity, purpose and self care. Here are a few examples:
Instead of the usual quick fix meals and coffee through the day, you now have time to prepare and make nourishing meals to sit down and savour. You could replace one of your coffees for a smoothie. Trying new recipes and getting hands on in the kitchen is a creative resource which you can literally taste the results and acoplomshiment from whilst boosting self fulfillment.
This is a great creative resource that help reinforce a sense of purpose and identity. Whether its taking on the painting of a room, correcting all of the errors in self assembled furniture or just getting around to changing the blown bulbs that you dont normally have the time to do, it all helps to create a sense of task and accomplishment.
• Delve into Self Care
The usual routine for self care is often described to me as taking a yoga class or 5 minutes of meditation in the morning or at night. Which are great practices in busy routines but in isolation you are gifted the time to really explore and expierence self care and mindfulness.
Instead of the 10 minute quick shower, take an extra long bath to really relax your muscles and mind.
Pick the long meditation guide on YouTube or Headspace and let yourself get lost in relaxation knowing that you're not restricted by time or schedules.
• STAY ACTIVE
We are all moving and active human beings. It is part of our nature to want to move around and stretch our legs. Anxiety also has very physical responses so it is important even in isolation to release energy and keep moving. There is no better way to do this than a physical workout. You dont need a gym or a track, you can stay active in your home or garden. Why not connect with you're inner child again and bring the hula hoop or football out for a while. There are also lots of home workout routines, mindfull dancing and more on YouTube if you like a little bit of structure and guidance.
3. Consciously manage your anxiety.
Self isolation in terms of anxiety can have a lot of different consequences. You may already suffer from anxiety or depression and isolation may be something you have experienced many times as a symptom. For others isolation can provoke and onset anxiety that they may not have experienced before. Managing anxiety is regardless something we all need to consciously practice and here is a few tips on how to do just that.
Keeping a mind diary or journal is a fundamental tool for managing your anxiety. It helps you to track triggers, patterns and behaviours of your anxiety. It can really help with mainting clarity through anxiety festering stages and it also can be used as a tool for changing those beliefs and patterns behind negative anxiety cycles. Above all it physically takes those negative thoughts and anxietys out of your mind and places them on a page which can be closed. I will be posting a blog on how to keep a mind diary later in the week but if you would like more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keeping grounded is an amazing tool to pull yourself back from the trap of negative thought cycles and isolation. When you feel you are spiraling off into the midst of anxiety, take a deep breath and stop what you are doing. Place your feet firmly on the ground and close your eyes. Draw your attention and mind to the body and breathe. Feel your feet on the ground, the connection between your foot and the sufrace of the floor, feel what your hands are touching, any parts of the body that is in contact with another surface. Continue to breathe with your eyes closed and imagine your feet extending like roots into the ground. Continue to breathe and draw your mind back to the body, stabilising it, grounding it. Practice this as often as you need.
Modern technology has gifted us with the ability to connect with others despite being in isolation. We now have so many tools such as Skype, facetime, WhatsApp etc., to stay in touch and stay connected. Utilise this and connect with family members and friends by calling or face timing them when you need to talk. If you are in isolation with close family members turn off the phone and use this time to be really present and connect with them. To feel connected and heard is an anxiety reliever.
Get help if you need it
Just because you are in isolation does not mean support and services are in isolation also. The joy of modern technology enables us to avail of support services online and there are so many resources you can use. At MindMotivation.ie we have Skype sessions available for anyone that needs them. If you would like to book an appoitment, you can do so on the website or by emailing us.