Now Australia is self-isolating, much advice is focused on what to do: exercise, talk to friends and family, keep your kids entertained. But what most don’t talk about is how we feel.
I don’t know about you but I’m feeling a bit lost. Apart from worrying about how my team and I can help our real estate clients and working out how to pivot our strategies, it’s hard to escape that dead feeling inside. So, I went online to find out if anyone was talking about it.
Mark Shaefer, a respected marketer, talks about ‘psychological disorientation’. He wrote recently all the activities in his life that make it meaningful have been cancelled or put on hold. He’s had to find new purpose in his life and find an identity that is separate from his work.
David Kessler, the world’s foremost expert on grief, says that what we’re experiencing is collective grief. We know the world has changed and that we can’t control things. He notes that, just as air travel changed forever after 9/11, so too will our world be changed once we get past this stage. And that makes us anxious, and sad for the potential loss of our freedom and financial income.
In Australia, we’ve barely recovered from the horrendous bushfire season, then many of us were affected by floods. There is a disconnect between our self-isolation and our recent efforts to be a strong community and help other communities.
What can I do to feel better?
If you go online, every second article will offer activities for lockdown or self-isolation. Discussing feelings with my team, here’s what we collectively feel is most useful.
1. Acknowledge how you feel
It’s a confusing time with so many elements out of our control. That makes us feel uncomfortable, anxious, maybe even afraid or sad.
Once you recognise those feelings and you can name them, you’ll feel better. You can’t control what’s happening now. Your first objective should be to come to peace with what is happening.
Here’s a quote I love from the Headspace meditation app;
“There is life how it is and life how we think it should be. The more we cling to the latter, the more we struggle.”
2. Reclaim your energy
We suggest that the first action you can make is to accept this new (if temporary) normal. The longer you fight it, the more energy you expend on what is a useless exercise.
If you’re still feeling anxious, check out this helpful video discussing how to FACE COVID by Dr Russ Harris, author of the Happiness Trap.
3. Be grateful
Every morning, think about what’s good. Having been in quarantine for 14 days, I’m grateful for friends who’ve been in touch just to check I’m ok. I’m grateful that this didn’t happen in the middle of a drought and while bushfires ravaged our country. I’m grateful that this happened after my charity ride across Thailand as that trip put my resilience at an all-time high.
4. Stay informed
Get accurate and up-to-date information. Get the facts straight from health authorities and the government. Try not to overwhelm yourself by reading news media sites. In fact, my recommendation is to keep some social media distance and just head straight to key sources of information online for the facts, such as;
5. Learn a new skill
While most of us will (if we’re honest) spend our time in front of Netflix or doing DIY home improvements or pottering in the garden, if you can motivate yourself, this is a great time to do something different.
In a few weeks, you could work your way through the first module of Spanish through the FutureLearn platform (and most courses are free to join) or learn the piano with SimplyPiano. You could practise new recipes, or learn how to play a new interactive game.
6. Keep a visual diary
When you’re self-isolating, every day feels like Sunday. Why not keep a visual diary by saving favourite photos, videos or screenshots of quotes you love to your mobile, make every day a bit special. It’s one way to keep yourself grounded. And if you are feeling social media savvy prehaps create a private or public Instagram account to share them.
7. Look outside the four walls
If you’re anything like me and my team, you love to travel, even if it’s only interstate to visit family and friends. Just because we’re confined doesn’t mean we can’t dream and get planning.
You could also visit an art gallery located anywhere in the world using Google Arts & Culture site. Or a museum, virtually. There’s fun to be had following Tim the security guard via Twitter for hilarious updates he shares from The National Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City, USA. Check him out.
8. Understand that this is temporary
Although we can’t see an end in sight, there will be an end.
Try to appreciate that we are all in this together. Curb your temper and try not to take your feelings out on others.
And remember that a problem shared is a problem halved. So hop on the phone and talk it through with your nearest and dearest, no matter how far away they live.
9. Help someone: we’re all in this together
I don’t know about you but I’ve been heartened by the Chinese and Italians singing from their balconies, the Spanish and Londoners applauding front line workers, and the many musical parodies and kindness groups that have sprung up.
Yes, we might be experiencing collective grief but we can also find much joy and social connectivity.
And if all else fails, there’s always a new cat video. Better still check out this Facebook group, Be Positive +++, which has the best of the best COVID-19 parodies, jokes and videos from across the world. My friend Sarah, an Australian living in Shanghai, set this group up after 60 days in self-isolation. Enjoy!
Stay safe. Stay positive. Stay connected.