Wellness During Uncertain Times
During uncertain times is it especially important to be purposeful with what clinical psychologists call your biopsychosocial health. If you are feeling ill, follow medical advice. If you are feeling well, be determined to stay well by paying attention to the following BioPsychoSocial aspects of wellness (in addition, of course, to pandemic control matters):
Bio – Eat well because your food intake fuels your energy and good nutrition can support your mental health as well. Avoid sugar and caffeine spikes as they will likely lead to corresponding low points. Limit alcohol as too much alcohol can interfere with restorative sleep and alcohol is, of course, full of empty/non-nutritious calories. Despite going to work or not or working from home, try to maintain a steady and regular awake and sleep time and regular routine. Your body requires regular sleep to maintain health and routine can help calm anxiety by increasing predictability. Try to avoid sleeping during the day, unless having a targeted and limited nap. Stay involved in some form of exercise by going for a walk or another chosen form of exercise that honours social distancing. Move around in your home and even standing, versus sitting for extended periods of time, can aid in maintaining some level of fitness.
Psycho – How are you feeling? Be aware of your feelings and talk to a supportive person if needed. Maybe keep a journal about your feelings during this time or use some art to express how you are feeling. Remember that Lifeline and other support systems are available via the phone and internet and can therefore be used even when one is ‘social distancing’ or in isolation. What are you thinking about? How much time are you spending ‘digesting’ the endless updates and new releases related to the pandemic? You may wish to limit your ‘digestion’ of news and pandemic related information to once or a couple times a day to limit the impact of the information on your attention and emotions. Make certain to pay attention to the kindness of people and the support we have for each other, and not just highly reported negative events. Search for the positive so as not to be overwhelmed or become focused upon the negative. Maybe take a ‘break’ from pandemic information and read a good book or watch a movie such as a comedy or adventure classic. Read books and view movies designed to lighten your mood if you are feeling down. If you are spending more time at home and feeling less productive as you are spending less time at work, maybe use the time to wrestle cleaning out one robe or one drawer. Routine and structure can help limit anxiety, so maybe deciding to clean ‘one drawer on Wednesday’ may be a good goal or plan. It can feel satisfying to accomplish some basic tidying up without overdoing things and creating more mess and pressure as a result. You can limit such activity by reminding yourself ‘not to let perfect be the enemy of good’ and doing ‘one robe a week’ and still feel as though you have accomplished something in the home. Maybe take a look at your pantry/freezer and search the internet for some interesting recipes in which to use those lentils you purchased on sale. Trying something new, even a recipe, can be something to look forward to. Spend some time in your garden or with a pet and remember that other aspects of your existence are continuing despite the pandemic.
Social – Take some time to reach out to work, social, and family contacts as appropriate. This can be via email, text messaging, videoconferencing, and good old fashioned letter writing. Think creatively about how you can maintain or reactivate the social contacts most important to you in a meaningful way that honours social distancing.
Every day has 1440 minutes in it … 24 hours … decide how you wish to use your time and how much time you wish to spend thinking out various topics … decide how much time you wish to use connecting with those you care about.
Clinical Psychologist and Counsellor
Senior Lecturer University of South Australia