5 things to stop doing during lockdown
If you're still in lockdown, you may be feeling fatigued, burnt-out, exhausted or frustrated. These 5 habits are not helping.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) revealed in June this year that 1 in 5 Australians are experiencing high levels of psychological distress during lockdown.
This is often triggered due to the forced nature of being restricted from what was once our "normal" way of living, moving and interacting with family and friends.
While we are currently living in unprecedented times and things may feel out of our control, we can help ourselves by focusing on the things that are in our control.
The key is to establish a new routine and lifestyle and to engage in activities fit for purpose to help you maintain a happy and healthy life during lockdown.
Here are 5 things to stop doing to protect your mental health and improve your overall wellbeing during lockdown or following life after COVID-19.
1. Over-consume negativity
This first tip requires you to be self-aware of your thoughts, feelings and actions. We live in an "always on" society, thanks to the online and social media world.
How are you really feeling after watching a COVID-19 update or press conference? Or after consuming any negative content online?
Nationwide, news fatigue has become an increasing issue as most Australians are working from home and overconsuming news. This manifests into feelings of stress and exhaustion as we become worn out from hearing about coronavirus and negative events out of our control.
This is why setting boundaries with the TV and limiting your consumption of news is key – otherwise, it could contribute to a toll on your mental health.
Instead, ask yourself "What content do I currently consume that makes me feel happy?"
It could include the following:
- Grabbing some fresh air and sun on your skin
- Watching a Netflix series (like these top 10 streaming shows)
- Sitting outdoors and watching the sunset
- Listening to a podcast
- Reading a book
- Listening to music
Participate in activities that make you happy and provide a mental break and escape from the world.
2. Fall into online shopping or substances and devices addiction
To cope with feelings associated with lockdown, many Australians have become addicted to behaviours that increase their production of dopamine, a chemical released in our brain when we do things we take pleasure in.
This includes online shopping, eating a delicious meal, staying on our devices or having a glass (or more) of wine.
While this may sound harmless, you don't want to be maxing out your credit cards or engaging in these behaviours in excess. This comes at the expense of your mental health. Fortunately, there are several healthy activities you can engage in that will benefit your overall mental wellbeing, which brings me to our next tip.
3. Forget to connect with friends and family
While you may be physically isolating, lockdown is not a time to disconnect from friends, family and loved ones.
Luckily, we live in an era where we can leverage technology to call or FaceTime those close to us, getting that much needed human connection from anywhere in the world.
Studies have found that not having face-to-face interactions nearly doubles someone's risk of depression, whilst having high-quality relationships improves our quality of life, happiness and helps us live longer lives and have fewer mental health problems.
4. Avoid your usual movement, activities and exercise
Staying inside for long periods of time can result in feelings of stress and loneliness.
In 2020, 51% of Australians watched TV and movies in their spare time and 46% spent more time baking or doing arts and crafts. These activities give you a much-needed mental break from work, isolation and help you to switch off for the day.
Secondly, establishing an exercise routine is even more beneficial and important in maintaining your mental as well as physical health.
Moving your body, whether it's going for a walk, run or another form of exercise increases your serotonin levels in your brain and gives an endorphin rush. This will have a positive effect on your mental wellbeing by eliminating negative thoughts and improving memory and sleep.
Don't forget you can add in movement by pacing around when taking work calls, making it a habit to stretch every 30 minutes and engaging in short movement during on-off-on screen time.
5. Neglect your biological needs
If you're struggling with your mental health, get back to the basics and ask yourself these 3 questions:
- Are you getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night?
- Are you eating 3 healthy meals per day?
- Are you exercising 30 minutes every day?
While it sounds obvious and straightforward, sometimes we forget the impact sleep, healthy eating and exercise can have on our overall well-being.
Finally, seek professional support if you aren't coping with lockdown or with the weeks and months after emerging and transitioning back to "normal".
Early intervention is key when addressing mental health issues and will prevent severe mental health issues from developing in the future. If you're struggling, take control of your life and seek help from myself or another professional today.
October is mental health awareness month. If you need support, reach out to Beyond Blue today.
Dr. Frank Chow is the director and psychiatrist at 2OP Health, a specialist in organisational and occupational psychiatric service that specialises in workplace-related mental health care. Dr Chow is passionate about advocating early intervention, education and rehabilitation so individuals can get back on track with improved clarity, motivation and fulfilment at work.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article (which may be subject to change without notice) are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Finder and its employees. The information contained in this article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, investment advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort. Neither the author nor Finder has taken into account your personal circumstances. You should seek professional advice before making any further decisions based on this information.
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