Mental wellness in isolation
Introducing Ben and Alex, reaching out from their farm in Te Kowhai to bring us five tips for mental wellness in isolation. Like them, you may have found that during this isolation period there have been a few ups and downs in terms of your emotional well-being. So, these checks can help you get through this time.
Tip #1: Keep occupied
For most of us, our routine has been severely disrupted. We might not be working at the moment or we’ve got to take care of kids at the same time. So looking for ways to create a routine is really important. Ben calls this “activity scheduling”. Think about the activity ahead of time. It might be in the morning, thinking about what you might want to do in the afternoon, or at night thinking about what you can do in the next day. In the weekend, plan what you might do in the weeks to come. Create routines around meal times and sleep.
Not only does that bring joy when you actually do the activity, but also when we’re experiencing discomfort or distress in the short term, sometimes the activity that we’ve lined up for ourselves that here in the future is something positive to look forward to. When we do activities we tend to feel joy so it’s kind of like basic maths. When you do something you love, you feel good about it. One of the things that I absolutely love about activity scheduling is that it’s in the eye of the beholder. Then when you do something novel i.e. something that you haven’t done before you get even a bigger burst of enjoyment. Write a to-do list. Try a new recipe? A different type of exercise?
Tip #2: Stay connected
Humans are naturally wired to want to connect and be a part of a tribe. If you think about humans in the days of cavemen, the one way that we survived was to have our people around us. It makes us feel secure and happy. It’s one of the great ways to help support our mental wellness during this isolation period. One of the ways that you can stay connected with others is to maybe have a wine (or treat of your choice) by FaceTime. Maybe you want to mention someone through social media or even take time to revisit memories that are special to you. That could be through photos or videos, or just connecting with others with a shared thought.
Tip #3: Connect with nature
Get connected with nature, whether that’s in your backyard or within the two-kilometre radius of your home. How you do this? We want to practice a lot of mindfulness. Make sure to explore your senses. What can you see? What can you hear? If you can maybe take some fruit from a tree, what does it taste? When we’re mindful to our surroundings we can take in the beauty that’s all around us.
Tip #4: Build mastery
As humans, we really like to feel successful. A way that we feel successful is by practising something until we feel a bit better at it. And that’s one way that we can have our body releases endorphins. We can get endorphins from exercise, but there are other ways that we can generate this as well. So, practice things or maybe learn a new skill that can help with your mental wellness in isolation.
Tip #5: Self-care
Everything has changed at the moment. Now, more than ever, it’s okay to not be okay when we’re dealing with a lot of things within our bubble. It’s important to also make sure that you have some time to yourself for self-care. So that could be taking some quiet time outside, listening to a podcast or audiobook, maybe having a bath. Or, Ben’s favourite: some vitamin C, some vitamin D, and some vitamin “tea”.
Ben works in mental health and is still working during this time. What he and his colleagues are acutely aware of is the stress going on within people’s bubbles. Hopefully, within your bubble, things are going well and you have people that you can talk about what’s going on. If you are feeling distressed and you have lots of thoughts in your mind, please reach out for support. New Zealand has a lot of great helplines you can call if you need support.
Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 (0800 LIFELINE) or free text 4357 (HELP)
Suicide Crisis Helpline – 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Healthline (for Covid-19 related symptoms) call free on 0800 358 5453
See a list of more helplines in this link. https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/in-crisis/helplines/