Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: Tips for coping during Lockdown 2?

Knowing what we're in for is harder this time around, so says Dr Michelle O'Driscoll, who shares some tips on how to make the latest Level 5 restrictions a bit easier.
Dr Michelle O'Driscoll: Tips for coping during Lockdown 2?

KEEP IN CONTACT: Pick up the phone, do a Zoom call, reach out and stay in touch with people, during Lockdown 2. Picture: Stock

WE saw it coming and chose to pretend that it wouldn’t — couldn’t happen again.

But it has and here we are, one week into six weeks of Level 5 restrictions as a result of this Covid-19 pandemic.

The progressively darker evenings, the frequent rain and the heaviness in the air is really adding to the pathetic fallacy of the whole thing, echoing the heaviness of the nation’s mood.

Knowing what we’re ‘in for’ this time round is making the whole thing harder in many ways. We’re scratching our heads, wondering what is going to replace Tiger King and banana bread! And aside from the dark humour, there is real concern and worry about our mental health in all of this. Will it emerge intact?

Resilience, the ability to be able to bounce back from challenging situations, is something that we as a people have proved we possess in bucket-loads this year already. But enthusiasm wanes, energy depletes, and each time we have to get up and put the pieces back together again is a little harder.

Plenty has been written about how to get through this period, some of it cliche, some of it unrealistic, but some of it really good, solid advice. Here are the things that are vital, non-negotiables if you’re going to weather part two of this storm.

Connection

This is crucial. So much so that the government has introduced social bubbles this time for those who live or parent alone.

Nobody should be completely isolated. Loneliness is a killer. It has been shown to kill as many people as smoking does. We need that connection, we rely on others more than we ever realised before this pandemic hit. One of the silver linings of this period has been the renewed appreciation for the people in our lives that we connect regularly with, and who fuel us every day. Those connections were greatly undervalued up until now; we were too busy with the rat race to notice.

During Lockdown 2.0, take it upon yourself to connect daily. It might seem easier not to bother, but make yourself do it. Pick up the phone. You will feel better for having connected, and also for knowing you’ve improved somebody else’s day too.

Allowing

We all feel a multitude of things about these restrictions. And what has really become apparent is that no two people feel the exact same way. Because although we’re all weathering the same storm, we’re not all in the same boat. And everybody’s boat has its own challenges to overcome.

Allowing your emotions is so important. If you try to suppress them, you’re fighting a losing battle. Allow them, observe them, see that they do ebb and flow, until eventually they do pass.

What can help with this? Writing them down and seeing them in black and white. Meditation to practice the allowing but not engaging.

At any point if things get too overwhelming, seek help — there is lots of it out there. You won’t be alone in needing it.

Slow the Pace

Life coach Jay Shetty writes about how to find ‘the balance between peace and purpose’, a very powerful concept. That is, after all, what we are all seeking in reality. We want to have goals and ambitions, but to also be able to enjoy the journey with an ability to pause at regular intervals and enjoy life. The elusive perfect pace.

The ‘peace’ part of that concept is the one that we really struggle with. We find it so hard to switch off usually. Use lockdown as a chance to practice that. Think of it as permission to slow down at least. To reflect, to realign to what it is we want from life, and to put ourselves in battery saver mode. The seasons are gearing up to do just that, maybe we should too.

Purpose

Pandemic or no pandemic, we need something to get up for every morning. We need a reason to get dressed, show up and keep going. And right now that reason might not be very obvious, especially if you’ve once more been temporarily laid off, or your business is in trouble.

Your job for these six weeks is to identify that purpose, however small it may seem. And then to show up for it.

Choose something that you are going to accomplish in the next six weeks. It doesn’t have to cost money or take a huge amount of energy. Surviving a pandemic is enough to be worrying about in many ways, but setting a goal will make the whole situation a bit better than bearable.

Start a Couch to 5k, register for an online course, or sign up for a local initiative to help in the community.

While it’s so important to honour how you’re feeling, allow it to be so, and not try to change it, giving yourself little mini goals will help to pull you out of a rut and get you moving again. The only way through is through. So as best you can, keep going.

Dr Michelle O’Driscoll is a pharmacist, researcher and founder of InTuition, a health and wellness education company. Her research lies in the area of mental health education, and through her company InTuition she delivers health promotion workshops to corporate and academic organisations nationally.

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