• Dr Phoebe Lau

5 tips to get you through self-isolation

In these unsettling times of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important than ever to take care of our mental health. Our emotional wellbeing is highly impacted by uncertainty and isolation, and this tends to lead to loneliness, fear, and panic. Instead of panic-buying, there are a few compassionate ways to help us through this time of self-isolation, social distancing, and illness.

Cat looking out the window
Photo by Stephanie Harvey

Look for what’s constant

Take a moment in the mornings to focus on what’s constant in your life. For example, take a moment to appreciate the constancy of the sky, the ocean, the trees, the little insects or birds, and the ground you stand on.

Change what you can

You might not be able to control or change the pandemic, but we can focus on what we can control and change. We can control how we think about our personal situation, and beliefs about our lives. When in challenging times, it’s easy to let our thoughts spiral to catastrophic thoughts, or generalising negative thoughts to the rest of our lives. Notice if you’ve fallen into an unhelpful thinking trap.

Get that routine going!

Humans are habitual creatures that like a sense of routine and stability. Just because your normal routine has been shaken, it doesn't mean it's time to abandon all routines. Take time to establish a new routine in the mornings that marks the start of a working day, even though you're working from home. This might include a morning workout, getting changed into smart casual-wear, or getting takeaway coffee (if it's still available). Try not to slide into the habit of working (and managing the kids) in your pyjamas! Also mark the end of the working day by a routine, like changing your clothes, going for a run, or packing up your work area.

Your exercise routine is more important than ever to maintain at the moment. Exercise will help you regulate stress, and it's an acceptable way to avoid "cabin fever".

Photo by Marina De Salis

Have a practice to calm (and have fun)

Set up a personal or family practice to calm and have fun. Being able to feel a moment of calm and fun allows us to remember parts of our lives not affected by this pandemic. We might set up a short yoga or meditation practice (there are plenty of YouTube videos and apps) with just ourselves or our whole household. Instead of watching the news or scrolling through our phones, we can take this opportunity to bond with the members of our household by playing boardgames or charade, have an in-home dance-off or lip sync battle, or return to good-old-fashion story telling.

Stick to evidence and facts

These days we are saturated with COVID-19 news, and our conversations seem to be dominated by the pandemic. Instead of listening to Uncle Bob’s opinion of COVID-19 (unless Uncle Bob is an expert in the field), look up the facts from the trusted sources like your government website or the World Health Organisation. You might even consider limiting your news consumption to government briefings only.

If you or someone you know would like emotional support at this unsettling time, our Clinical Psychologist, Dr Phoebe Lau, is now offering online sessions. Find out more.

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