Living with COVID
In the current climate of COVID-19, life as we have known and lived it has changed dramatically and changed without warning. Whilst continually hoping that life will return to ‘normal’ our hopes have been dashed with each outbreak and subsequent lockdown.
In the need to practice social distancing and for many also needing to self-isolate, people have become separated from loved ones, daily routines have been disrupted and for many there has been a loss of business, jobs and income.
This has resulted in fear, anxiety, boredom and frustration for many people.
My colleagues and I have started to refer to COVID fatigue. What this means is that we have become tired and stressed. We are finding it difficult to adapt to a new way of life.
In recent months it has not just been lockdown that has affected mental well-being but also trying to navigate conflicting and ever changing information about vaccination. This has resulted in high anxiety for many.
To function well in our day to day lives we need to balance mind, body, spirit and social.
The mind: to be able to have helpful thought processes that result in positive outcomes (feelings and behaviours). For example; if I am having the thought that I will do a meditation I will experience the feeling of relaxation and engage in the activity of meditation).
The body: engage in the 3 E’s - Eat well, Exercise and Energise (sleep and relax).
The spirit: what spirituality means to you as an individual. This may or may not include religious practice.
Social: it is essential for humans to be connected to each other. A benefit of the 21st century is that we can utilise a myriad of technologies to stay connected with each other. Our fatigue has resulted in the lack of face-to-face contact with loved ones who live interstate and/or overseas.
Resilience is typically defined as the capacity to recover from difficult life events. It is the ability to withstand adversity and bounce back and grow despite life’s downturns.
We are resilient. If we were not we would not have survived as a species. To be resilient, we need to:
- Engage realistic planning. In our current times this means that we also need to be flexible with our plans and be willing to change them quickly and efficiently.
- Maintain our self-esteem by staving off feelings of helplessness when confronted with adversity. Remember, we can’t do it alone – we need help and connection.
- Dig deep for those coping skills and/or seek psychological support to brush up or replenish the psychological coping skills tool kit. Communicate your needs and feelings. Use journaling as well as talking to others.
To overcome burn out and fatigue it is important to maintain a daily routine and set daily goals, no matter how small.
Engage in meditation daily. Why? Meditation decreases adrenaline and cortisol production which are unhealthy stress hormones and increases the feel good health hormones such as endorphins, dopamine and serotonin.
Stay connected with your pets if you have any. Pets such as cats or dogs are therapeutic and will make us smile.
Remember to smile (can’t frown if you are smiling), connect with others and do something fun each day (wear your fanciest heels during a zoom meeting instead of Uggs).
Article Written by:
Anne Marie is a Allied Health Manager at our sister hospital Currumbin Clinic and is a Psychologist in clinical practice for over 25 years