Self-care and staying sane in isolation
Kerwin Rae

If you’re feeling anxious, panicked, sad, or overwhelmed – I guarantee that you’re not alone.

There’s no denying we’re in a very turbulent situation with the state of things.

But, whether you’re working from home or spending more time inside than usual, it’s never been more important to look after your physical and mental health.

I sat down with Dr. Jodie Lowinger of the Sydney Anxiety Clinic to chat about what we can do to take care of ourselves.

What to do and what NOT to do

“This is quite a surreal experience for many of us,” Dr. Jodie acknowledges. “Only a matter of weeks ago, we were having our coffees in the cafes, shops, we were shopping, we were swimming at the beach. We were going about our day to day.”

To keep yourself from overthinking and going crazy, it’s a good idea to maintain a routine similar to what you would do in any other situation.

Don’t sleep until 2pm and binge-watch Netflix with an extra-large pizza – you’re just going to end up feeling worse.

Your brain is heavy on association, and when do we sleep all day and eat comfort food?

When we’re sad, depressed, or feeling burnt out. Your brain recognises that and you’ll only end up falling into a slump.

Wake up at your usual time, get some sunlight, follow your exercise schedule, and set clear working hours to get shit done.

Keeping up with your hobbies and your herd

It’s natural to feel bored and antsy when you’re spending more time alone and indoors, but there are ways to keep the connection going while keeping your distance.

Dr. Jodie confirms that “connection is absolutely key to our mental health, our wellbeing. We are tribal beings. We evolved from tribes. We need tribes. We are part of tribes. Now, let’s recognize social isolation, social distancing does not mean social disconnection.”

If you’re working from home and missing your team, touch base by having lunch over a video call together.

Some people jazz it up by having a dress code like silly hats or formal attire, and others like to all follow along and cook the same recipe together.

You can rally your friends to play virtual trivia over video call, or all watch the same movie at the same time.

When you get creative and have fun with it, you’ll find the humour and connection more rewarding than ever.

With all this time, it’s also never been a better opportunity to pick up a new hobby.

Countless personal trainers, yoga, and pilates instructors are uploading their at-home workouts online if you fancy mixing it up a little.

There are online courses and apps that you can use to learn a new language or professional skills like coding, excel, content marketing etc.

If you’ve been dying to start a blog, a YouTube channel, a podcast, or write a book, you’re now blessed with the time to sit at home and really nail it down.

Once you realise the opportunities are endless, you’re able to really enjoy the time you have and fill it with things you normally wouldn’t get a chance to.

A specialists approach to anxiety and panic attacks

If you find yourself getting overwhelmed and needing strategies to calm your mind and body, Dr. Jodie recommends a seven-step approach to regulate your brain’s fight or flight response.

1. Notice the thoughts that are causing you anxiety and the story that’s taking place.

2. Practise conscious breathwork to reset your nervous system. Try breathing in for six, holding for six, then breathing out for six.

3. Validate your thoughts and feelings – it’s okay to feel anxious or upset.

4. Accept the uncertainty and discomfort of the situation instead of resisting it.

5. Bring your attention to the present moment and your immediate surroundings.

6. Focus on what is within your control. Feel free to put plans in place for things within your control, but you must learn to let go of that which you can’t control.

7. Take care of yourself by exercising, reaching out to loved ones, meditation, and make space for fun and mood-boosting activities during this time.

“Each time you do this, it’s rewiring the brain, it’s empowering you. It gets easier over time. The more you practice these strategies, the better you become, the less inclined you get to be hijacked by that (fight or flight response),” she advises.

When times get tough, it’s important to look after yourself physically and emotionally. Remember – you can’t pour from an empty cup, so be sure to take care of yourself first.

If you’re still finding yourself in a rut and cannot seem to get your mindset in the right space for you to focus on bigger things like your family, friends and your business feel free to talk to one of senior business consultants who are more than ready to talk to you about any topic you want to discuss. They will go through in depth with you any challenge you’re facing and will present you with a roadmap to help you solve it.

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