Being in insolation is as it sounds, isolating. Whether you have company or not, it is a lonely place to be. As someone who barely sits still, with the time we are forced to stay at home, I’m finding it difficult. Big thinkers like myself are getting absorbed in thoughts and feelings, over analysing, worrying and fretting about, ‘what next’. It’s a scary time for everyone. So whilst we’re frightened of the beast that is coronavirus, the other demon in the room is mental health. In this case lockdown mental health.
Being lonely or lost in negative thought patterns is a horrible place to be. Ordinarily when I’d have such thoughts I’d divert my attention to getting outdoors. That’s not an option at the moment, so what can you control whilst at home to ease your lockdown mental health worries.
Let it ride through you
I always find if I shut down a thought or panic about it, it grows. What could be a tiny monster initially, will esculate into a beast. This is because I’ve allowed information of what bothers me to be noted by my subconscious. My mind will use that information against me because it knows it’s going to cause an anxious reaction. For example, I’ve had really bad anxiety causing a tight chest. My negative thought pattern is telling me I must have coronavirus. Initially I would let it consume me, I’d Google it, ask for clarification from my husband, and then worry constantly if I’d given it someone else. In reality I simply had a tight chest from the worry of it all. My mind now knows it bothers me, and ultimately uses it against me.
The only way to deal with these kinds of thoughts is to not retaliate. If you fight the thoughts, by justifying why they aren’t true or valid, they simply come back stronger. Let them wash over you. Don’t give them your time.
Switch to something else
Letting negative thoughts about being housebound, and avoiding the coronavirus wash over you, is probably easier said than done. I’m very aware. But it’s about creating a new habit. You can gain habits easily, just look at how your thought patterns are, they’re habits you probably never realised were there. It’s about re-training how we deal with irrational thoughts.
I personally find that when these thoughts enter my head, I let them flow, don’t bite in retaliation, and then switch to a new activity. For example I’m sorting out washing, my mind wanders and I start worrying about my parents and the coronavirus. I can literally do nothing about whether they catch it or not, so I let the thought happen. I then stop doing the washing and move to another activity. I’ll go play the piano and have my mind focus on something specific.
Activities to keep the mind healthy
I’m a creative person so I find that colouring or playing the piano keeps my mind healthy. These are my two go-to activities because they completely absorb my mind in a healthy way. I can’t read music and play the piano if my mind wanders else where, and I can’t colour whilst I’m off thinking about something else. I find it mentally impossible. Hello brain shut down!
For that time doing those activities my mind is switched off. Other activities you could do are an aerobics class from On Demand, reading, crafting, cooking, yoga, painting… the possibilities are endless.
How to keep on track
I’m such a big fan of a list! I’ve actually got a list of jobs around the house I want to do whilst we are in lockdown, and instead of complaining about being at home, I’m taking advantage of it. I never stay indoors, so having time to finally finish redecorating my kitchen. Remember, this isn’t going to be forever you just need to map out your day a bit more than normally so you have some direction. I’ve created a timetable during the week, and given myself free time at the weekend to be in the garden. If you start feeling yourself becoming distressed, simply change activity, give yourself 5 minutes and move on.
They call it cabin fever for a reason
It’s true! Remember the Muppet Treasure Island when they get cabin fever from being trapped on the boat so long – we are riding that ship right now. Whilst we can’t go off to see our friends and family, or head off on an adventure, we can still go outside. Be sure to do your 1 exercise outside everyday, choice something new, but whatever you do don’t avoid going outside. We need fresh air, daylight and exercise so don’t avoid it. Be sure to add that into your daily timetable.
Hello is it me you’re looking for?
The beauty of social media is actually showing a healthy side for once! The fact we can easily reach out to each other and content virtually is fantastic. There are apps like Zoom and House Party allowing entire families to come together to chat. We need human interaction, so this is a great option to keep that connection with others. We did this for my Mum’s birthday, we missed her lots, but this somehow eased it all a bit. I’d strongly suggest engaging with your friends and family with these kinds of platforms, it really helped with my lockdown mental health.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself
This is new to everyone. We are all in the same boat with this so we are all going to feel uneasy in some capacity, and looking after your lockdown mental health is very important. The biggest takeaway from this is to know you’re not alone. Someone somewhere in the world right now will be having the same anxious thoughts and feelings about our global situation, but we don’t need to be negative, enjoy the time to reflect, realign and when it’s over we’ll all come back stronger and thankful for the things we perhaps took for granted. Stay safe, stay at home.