By now it is hard to miss the constant headlines surrounding the current health pandemic sweeping across the world. Everywhere you look there’s no escaping from how coronavirus is affecting our lives; from your family sharing fake facts on WhatsApp group chats to panic buyers and empty supermarket shelves. Our reality is a stark contrast to the lives we were living only a month ago.
For some of us, social distancing and self isolation are a dream come true – getting to stay in and not have to see anyone. It would have been for me as well as I was still struggling with my mental health last year. But it is not mentally healthy for us to be in isolation and for those of us that struggle with mental health, this is now going to be a testing time for us. The uncertainty followed by the unpredictability and risks are causing a lot of us to feel high levels of anxiety, including those who have never experienced it before.
Whilst we have been seeing an increased mental health epidemic in this country, the current viral epidemic is not doing anything to slow down or or ease this at all. It’s not all about the health risks of this virus, there’s are many additional factors associated such as personal and financial factors. This includes the anxiety of whether our jobs and homes will be impacted; could we lose our jobs and the subsequently our homes? The uncertainty further fuels the anxiety.
Additionally, with bars, restaurants, and gyms closing down, this is going to effect those people who needs these social interactions or physical exercise to keep them well mentally. There are many of us that rely on the endorphins from a gym session or dinner with friends to keep us going and taking that away, whilst completely necessary, is only adding to the problem.
Personally, I have been trying to remain calm whilst taking necessary precautions. With a background in hospitality and catering, it is already ingrained in us on how to wash our hands properly and often. Being asthmatic, thankfully only mild, I make sure I have my reliever inhaler on me at all times and have started using my preventer inhaler as well as a precaution. However that is my physical health and what I am more worried about is my mental health. Having just recovered from anxiety and depression, I worry how this pandemic is going to affect me and whether I am going to relapse during this time.
From being quite recluse and introverted, I have been getting better of stepping out of my comfort zone and being myself again; the person I was before. Now we are practising social distancing and isolation along with working from home, I fear what being trapped inside will do for my mental health. Previously I had a small bout of such terribly anxiety from taking the train to work to being at work and now I am scared to spending the whole time at home. Between being less active and losing my regular routine, there are a lot of adjustments I will need to make to keep myself well in the upcoming weeks.
I have worked from home before but never for this uncertain and undetermined length of time. This could be for two months or just a week, although looking at scientific trajectories and the delay of government action, it most likely will not be the latter.
In preparation for this upcoming week I have used the weekend to prepare myself. On Saturday I thoroughly cleaned my bedroom and ensuite not only because of the virus but to also have a clean, calm separate space for myself to unwind. My bedroom is my safe haven so I wanted to make it more comfortable for myself to relax in during this period. Today I have spent some time with my mum (it’s ok, we live together) and set up my home office in the dining room. Although I have a desk in my room, I want to keep my work separate from my personal space.
So what am I going to do to keep myself healthy? Some of the following may seem trivial to some but those who have suffered depression know how important the little things are and by writing it down I am keeping myself accountable.
- Make my bed and workout! I am on 10am starts this week which gives me ample time to attempt a home workout before starting my work day.
- Shower and dress for the day! As tempting as it is to live in my joggers (which I religiously do when at home) I want to stick to a routine and making myself feel good by dressing good.
- Downstairs for breakfast at 9.30am and ready for team conference call at 10am.
- Lunchtime walks; thankfully we have a large garden so I can get some fresh air and stay active to break up my work day.
- Stay connected; FaceTime with a friend or two each day after work to keep healthy socially.
- Unwind; whether that is reading a book, playing PS3, watching tv, or writing, making sure I put an hour into each day for mental relaxation.
And most importantly, not feeling bad if I don’t manage all of this. This is going to be a tough time for everyone but our health is so important and we can get through it together.
Standing two metres apart of course. x