Today is World Mental Health Day, which has us reflecting on the importance of looking after our own mental health and that of others during this second lock down.
Here in Melbourne, the next few weeks are still so unknown, with Covid 19 cases slowly decreasing, but in a way that feels stubbornly slow.
It’s quite sobering to think about how things won’t really return to how they were any time soon. The truth is, many of us will still be dealing with loneliness and the impact of the economic downturn for months and possibly years to come.
We believe it’s always really important to keep mental wellbeing top of mind – not only in these last weeks of the current lockdown, but also in the coming months, when we will still inevitably be in some form of physical restrictions.
What are some things we can do to ensure we’re still looking after ourselves during what is hopefully the home stretch? As a team, we got thinking about a few things we’ve been doing to keep well during this time, which we’d like to share with you:
1. Treat yourself
It’s fair to say Melbourne’s various lockdowns from Covid 19 have been some of the toughest and longest (29 weeks!) in the world – just reflect on all of the sacrifices you’ve made during that time. As Melburnians, we should all be incredibly proud of all the amazing work we’ve done so far to physically distance, get the numbers down to where they are now, and keep the more vulnerable around us safe.
It’s been a tough grind – and well, you deserve a treat! With all the days feeling pretty 'samesy' (Sundays feeling a lot like Wednesdays anyone?), a nice way to break up the monotony is to treat yourself with something.
Buy something for yourself – an item to make your house a little cosier, a piece of clothing you’ve had your eye on (luxury leisurewear?). Better yet – get double the good feels when you buy local (our local retailers can use all the support and love they can get right now). It’s a nice surprise to have something that you’ve treated yourself to arrive at your door. Just for you.
2. Treat someone else
When you’ve been in lockdown for so many weeks, not getting out to the usual places and interacting with the usual people face-to-face, it can feel like a little bit of purpose is being lost, which has obvious effects on wellbeing.
Doing something nice and unexpected for someone else brings much-needed smiles to the recipient, of course. Research shows that giving and generosity lower the generally heightened self-focussed attention that often accompanies depression on the giver’s end too. Everyone wins.
With a little extra time on your hands without a work commute and social events, why not work up some care packages for your loved ones that you can send them out in the post? Time to cook up batches of your own ‘Strawberry Iso-Jam’ or dust off that pasta maker to roll out some ‘Fresh Quarantinuccine’ and pop them in the post!
Or if you’re not much of a cook, go old-school and write a physical letter to someone you miss. What a pleasant surprise a personally addressed letter in the mailbox would be!
3. ‘Book’ something in to look forward to
OK we may not be booking overseas holidays any time in the near future, but we can make small plans that will give us a lot to look forward to after the current restrictions ease, even if they’re for a few months’ time. Despair can set in really easily when you feel like there’s nothing fun to anticipate.
Why not create a small window of hope and book in some dates (all restriction-friendly, of course!) with friends and family now. You can always postpone or move it, if it turns out the current restrictions are still in place by then.
4. Bubble Buddy-up!
Thinking of where we all were 5 years ago, who would have ever thought ‘Bubble Buddy’ would be a thing in 2020!? Well, Singles and Solo Parents – it is just one more strange feature of the year that has been.
And if you’re living on your own, or your housemates are short and watch Paw Patrol all day, it’s time to take up the opportunity to get a bubble buddy – even if it may only be a ‘thing’ for the next few weeks.
It may be feel a tad awkward to propose bubble-buddying up with someone – after all, you can only be paired exclusively with one other buddy and you can’t ‘bubble buddy around’. This article from The Age explains how to overcome some of that awkwardness really well.
Or if you’re not living on your own, but know someone who is, and might be struggling, reach out and offer to be their ‘buddy’ – it’s one of those extensions of kindness that can improve your own mental wellbeing, just letting someone know what you’re thinking of them.
Not long to go Melbourne, if we all continue to be the amazing citizens we have been over the past few months – but let’s all continue to look after ourselves and those around us.