A woman lying on a bed holding a book over her face

Maintaining Mental Health in Challenging Times

Being locked down in isolation has really tested my sanity.

I’m someone who thrives off socialising, loves going to work and I’m the type of mum who rushes out the door with my child’s breakfast “to go”.

I’ve never been a homebody.

Unfortunately, I also have a track record of losing my sanity in times where I’ve needed to stay home. My self care standards drop and I live in a bubble devoid of time. My Uni swot-vac periods in particular, saw me living in a bright pink dressing gown encrusted with cereal. And I really couldn’t share honestly how many times it was washed.

A true indication for me that my sanity is slipping is when I wake up in the morning scrambling for my phone to tell me what day of the week it is.

Last week on Tuesday (or maybe Wednesday?) I did just that. Prior to grabbing my phone I asked a series of questions that I didn’t know the answer to, including “what did I do yesterday?” “Is it a weekday or weekend day?”

At that point it dawned on me that “iso” was affecting my sanity.

Whilst I no longer have a bright pink dressing gown to declare a drop in standards, COVID isolation has seen me develop a few other bad habits including unhealthy levels of screen time and the occasional choc for breaky.

Given COVID isolation isn’t short term like a few weeks of swot-vac, I’ve had to turn things around to save my sanity.

Here are my best tips for saving your sanity while in COVID isolation.

Ten Tips for Saving Your Sanity Amid COVID Insanity

Get organised. A good antidote to stress is to get organised. Make plans, set goals and write “To Do” lists, and get moving on them. If you feel stressed, ask yourself “what do I need to do to get on top of this situation?” and write a plan.

Balance your thoughts. It’s quite common to worry about your health during a global pandemic, however, our thoughts can quickly become pessimistic and irrational. For example, you might think “I can’t cope with all of these changes” or “things will never be normal again”. Negative thoughts will get in the way of doing helpful things. Therefore, it’s important to remember that our thoughts are not always true. Try forming more balanced thoughts by challenging the evidence “for” and “against” the thought. It can also help to imagine what a friend or family member would think about the same situation.

Get moving. When you’re stuck in your home, it’s pretty natural for your only daily movement to be from the couch to the pantry. However, a lack of movement can affect your health and psychological wellbeing. Therefore it’s important to get moving by either walking/jogging outside, dancing around your living room or doing a workout routine.

Read a good book or listen to an interesting podcast. For most of us, TV is our downtime activity of choice. However, after hours of screen time your brain may start to feel like sludge. Reading or listening to podcasts, on the other hand, is much more satisfying brain food.

Stay connected. Organise virtual dates with friends, preferably by video call. Make your catch ups fun by having a wine or cake and coffee. Staying connected will really lift your mood and morale during isolation.

Be kind to yourself. It’s ok to muddle your way through this patch of isolation life. Being in isolation is counter intuitive to our social and active instincts as humans, so it’s normal to struggle with various things such as your motivation, mood and relationships. It’s important to not judge yourself harshly for these “blips” and acknowledge that isolation is extremely challenging and it’s normal to struggle at times.

Create a healthy routine. Our emotional wellbeing is greatly influenced by routines; these routines not only help us get organised, but they also give us a sense of reward and accomplishment. It may be unrealistic to create routines similar to our normal living, but even just sticking to a meal and sleep routine will make a big difference. Also try to create some enjoyable rituals in your routine, for example, reading a book with a coffee in the morning.

Minimise media exposure. Focusing on the COVID crisis can quickly become obsessive and harmful. Limit time spent focused on the news and use reputable resources to stay informed, for example ABC radio, Australian Government Department of Health website, World Health Organisation website, etc. And stay away from sensationalised news that is written for shock value or with emotive intent.

Keep things in perspective. The COVID crisis has affected most people in some shape or form; some much worse than others. Try to remind yourself of the positives of your own individual situation. Even if it is hard to draw many positives, remember the crisis will eventually pass and things will return to normal again. The saying ‘this too shall pass’ is a good mantra for calming your mind.

Minimise COVID chat. Stress is infectious and often unhelpful. People tend to share things they are worried about; this creates an atmosphere of stress, which can perpetuate your own stress. Turn down the volume on COVID chat by disengaging in social media and kindly change the topic from conversations revolving around COVID.

How Can Peaceful Mind Psychology Help During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

We are offering face-to-face as well as Telehealth and online therapy support during the coronavirus outbreak. Our team of psychologists based in Melbourne are all professional, warm, and understanding of the struggles people are facing in this current climate, including anxiety, depression, relationship counselling, stress and panic.

Contact us today to be personally matched to a psychologist who suits your personality and mental health needs.