Let’s talk. How are you feeling? No, no. How are you really feeling? If the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown you in some way, or in EVERY way, we totally get it. Everyone’s life has experienced significant upheaval, and substantial changes to the way we do things have occurred. What hasn’t changed however is the need to look after ourselves – mentally, emotionally and physically.
Undoubtedly, to take a break from your four walls (your house)/Netflix you’ve gone for walks, rides or runs (dogs have never been so spoilt!), but exercise is just one component of self-care. Maintaining a holistic approach to your health is incredibly important at the best of times, so here are our top tips for looking after your mind, body and heart, during these challenging of times.
Connect with those you love: friends, family, neighbours. Whilst texting is convenient, emojis don’t really convey emotions. Nothing beats a bit of eye contact and a real smile – if you’ve got access to the internet and a camera – really engage with others with video catchups. You’ll always feel better for it. So too with your neighbours – pop outside, have a chat over the fence, and flex those social skills. You’ll need them for when we can high five again!
Keep learning. Not just your TAFE Queensland studies (obviously that’s important too!) but use this ‘restrictive’ period of time to expand your knowledge. This means reading or learning more about topics you’ve always had an interest in, but don’t force it. And it doesn’t just have to be non-fiction, textbooks or documentaries. Reading fiction and expanding your vocabulary or getting acquainted with the classics are all good things for the brain.
Keep a healthy sleeping pattern and maintain good sleep hygiene. Just because you might be able to sleep all day, doesn’t mean you should. Oversleeping, just like sleep deprivation, doesn’t make you feel great either. The sleep research suggests going to bed at the same time each night and waking up the same time each morning is what we should be aiming for. Stay away from blue lights (not the police, not the discos – the screens!) and have your own bedtime routine that you stick to – yes adults need them too.
Maintain a healthy diet and a regular exercise regime – eat nutritious foods you enjoy and commit to exercise that you find fun. Set yourself up well, so it’s easy and something you want to continue with. Not everyone is a runner and that is totally okay. Maybe you can do a 'Zoomba' or live streamed yoga class from your living room.
These are not things for ‘hippies’ anymore – they are for everyone. Being present through mindfulness – that is really focusing your attention on just the one thing, and the sensory input from it – is highly relaxing, and not surprisingly an effective way of getting things done (instead of trying to multi-task and do all things poorly).
For example, when you do the dishes allow yourself to really get absorbed by everything you’re feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling (and hopefully not tasting), to ensure a calm, focused mind. And meditation; deep breathing, bringing more oxygen to the brain is always a good thing for clear thinking, and will sometimes even help you drift off for a nap (if your body needs it).
If you need more guidance or ideas around maintaining your health and wellbeing – Queensland Health is a great resource to check out www.qld.gov.au/health
Megan Buxton has been in the welfare sector for 25 years developing programs and new initiatives, and leading and teaching others. She has experience across various roles including counsellor, career guidance officer, vocational teacher, and more. Megan is passionate about people reaching their potential, overcoming barriers to success, and living a life of fulfilment.