Covid-19, or ‘rona- as it’s recently been branded by the millennial collective- has shaken up every ounce of our regular lives.
With the higher-ups and global powers calling for social distancing, rigorous personal hygiene practices and quarantine, most of us are in a whirlwind of physical and emotional confusion.
While self-isolation can be the introvert’s dream-, those that aren’t so naturally inclined to hunker down are finding the reality of confinement just too much to bear.
Our usual, everyday liberties have been stripped away. What we’re seeing is a broader increase in irritability, depression, anxiety, fear and even substance abuse and domestic violence.
“We’re watching people react and trying to cope with how to respond to chaos,” says Dr Sherry Walling. Sherry is a licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of ZenFounder.
“On the spectrum of human reaction, most often, we try to counterbalance chaos and rigidity with hyper attention to control.”
For those of us that crave control in our lives, what are the things we can do to stay on track mentally in a time of such uncertainty?
It’s Okay To Want Control
Ah, the routines. Do you remember them?
Before Covid-19 swept across the world and ground everything to a halt, most of us had a routine in some capacity of another. Now we’re without them. We’ve lost that little piece of control in not only our day-to-day tasks but our mental health too.
“We all strive to be in control of our bodies, in control of our minds,” says Sherry. “When we see the total absence of total control, we’re in chaos.”
To regain a small portion of control, create new routines. The online mental health organisation, ReachOut.com suggests pencilling in activities like waking up at the same time every day, eating regular meals, journaling, or even just having a scheduled chat with a friend on the phone.
Take Care Of Yourself First
You can’t govern what is going on in the world right now, but you can control how you react.
For many of us, the most significant battles we’re facing in this pandemic is the one we’re fighting from within. In times like these, it’s easy for fear to trickle over into darker, unhealthy realms. It’s easy for our moments of sadness to morph into depression. It’s easy to lose sight of the important things because this new level of stress is overriding our system.
Sherry feels we need to take a personal COVID-free timeout (and to not feel guilty doing it).
“The most important intervention is in our self-care. It’s in our tenderness towards ourselves,” Sherry explains.
The highest self-care tip Sherry has on her list is sleep. “Let yourself sleep as much as your body wants to sleep.” Rest is one of the most significant contributors to reducing stress. Sufficient sleep can improve your mood, increase mental clarity, encourage creativity, and even boost motivation.
Sherry’s close self-care second is exercise. “Make sure your body moves every day significantly. Hopefully, something that gets your heart rate up, and then some stretching.”
Taking back control and genuinely caring for yourself is one of the best things you can do for your mental health, particularly when you are faced with a crisis.
Having a creative project that demands some of our attention and focus is the perfect medicine when you’re feeling off-kilter.
During this period of isolation, we have seen people take on creative endeavours that never would have been explored otherwise.
From baking sourdough bread, painting or even rooftop topiary and gardening- engage in something that brings you joy and sparks your creativity.
“They are a break from our business, they’re a break from the news and the stories, but they give us an outlet where we feel like, “Oh I can make something significant in the world,” says Sherry.
Are you feeling a bit lonely? Try reaching out to friends and family whenever you can.
Human connection is ingrained in our DNA; it is an integral part of us. In times like these, you still need to foster those needs so hopping on a call with someone you want to talk to is one of the best medicines for isolation.
With everyone wanting to connect and suddenly having a lot more idle time on their hands, grabbing a digital moment with that friend you see once a year, has never been easier.
The Worklife writer for the BBC, Tiffanie Wen, explained that she had been surprised at how many phone and video calls she’s made and received in this Covid-19 era.
Suddenly her weekly agenda is full of “scheduled FaceTime dates, video conferences and spontaneous communications that go on for an hour or more.”
Sherry points out that with this sudden smorgasbord of potential internet rendezvous, she has a sudden longing to speak with some people more than others. “I’m kind of noticing who I’m longing for,” she says.
“Those are my people in the midst of a crisis. Those are the people I want to chat with.”
So, who do you want to share your story with? Who do you long to speak within the midst of a global crisis?
Taking care of yourself first is not selfish. In fact, it’s the kindest thing you can do right now. Ensure you stay connected, and develop a routine that works for you now. Adopt some time for not only a little TLC, but also your creativity- your mental health will thank you.
The Psychology of Entrepreneurship
For more of the conversation with Dr. Sherry Walling, check out Volume 29 of Psychology of Entrepreneurship, hosted by Ronsley Vaz.