I’ll be blogging my way through the Coronavirus period, with a focus on the psychological impacts and how to keep yourself and the people you care about safe and mentally healthy.
Look after yourself peeps..
Dr Gareth Furber
First up, before I crap on about anything else, if you haven’t already, download the Coronavirus Australia app on your phone and if you use it, join their WhatsApp Channel – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-03-29/federal-government-launches-coronavirus-australia-app/12100680
These resources are very focused on providing information, rather that commentary, which I think is preferable in terms of your Coronavirus information diet.
What do I mean by that?
Your ‘Coronavirus information diet’ relates to where you are getting your information about Coronavirus and how much information you are consuming.
People differ in their preferences for information during events like this. Some people (like me) limit their information to the barebones. Others like to consume as much information as they can.
There isn’t a right or wrong approach, but your consumption of information should match your goals. I consume very little because I know that I just want to know the basics, and any more than that will likely make me anxious.
News stories are intended to have an emotional impact, and I am perfectly capable of generating my own emotions in relation to Coronavirus. Websites like the Department of Health and World Health Organisation are intended to provide information. What I am interested in most is ‘what do I need to do to stay safe and keep others safe?’ Now that I know the answers to that question (hygiene, social distancing, limits on social gatherings), I can get on with the rest of what I need to do.
So what have I been doing?
Well I just put the finishing touches on a presentation I hope to be giving soon for students holed up at home.
In that presentation I outline a few simple things that students can do to try and get some kind of groove happening in terms of adjusting to lockdown.
Here is what I have so far:
- Anchor points – establish a few times during the day that are reliably associated with the same activity.
- wake times
- morning walk
- the time you start studying
- the time you define your schedule for the day
- meal times
- exercise breaks
- the end time of the day – these are all the beginnings of a new daily routine, and routines are generally calming
- Set up a nice study/work space that is inviting to use.
- low distraction
- uniquely you
- natural light/ fresh air – you probably won’t be able to achieve all of these but try to maximise how many you can achieve
- Schedule your days – procrastination isn’t because of lack of willpower, it is about lack of organisation
- Kick your day off at the same time each day
- Start by outlining 3+ tasks you want to achieve that day and allocate them to specific times
- work in blocks of 20-40 minutes
- take regular breaks
- when you finish a task, before taking a break, outline the task you will do next
- Social apps – normally I’d encourage people to limit social app use whilst working, but in the current scenario I think having our friends and family nearby (in a digital sense) by having some social apps open (e.g. Skype, Zoom, Hangouts, Instagram, Snapchat etc) isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I feel comforted knowing my colleagues are just a few keyboard strokes away.
- Limit news exposure to just what you need to :
- keep yourself and your loved ones safe
- know what supports are available to you – beyond that I would limit Coronavirus news exposure, especially if you find your levels of worry/anxiety are high
- Establish a wellbeing practice – now is the ideal time to see if you can get some wellbeing practices embedded in your life. Feel free to experiment with a few to see what resonates – https://ggia.berkeley.edu/ – For me it is meditation and daily walks. For you it might be cooking and online games. The goal is to find activities that genuinely promote positive feelings and moods and/or personal growth or improvement.
- Engage professional supports – we’re all affected by the Coronavirus situation in different ways. For some the challenges are study related. For others the challenges are financial. For some, social. Make sure you are aware of what University supports are available and that you reach out to them if necessary. There are no stupid questions – https://students.flinders.edu.au/study-support/flinders-support-network
Some of the uncertainty of the current situation can’t be ameliorated. We all have to find a way to live with it, but some of the uncertainty can be addressed by establishing some security and order in your immediate environment. That is where habits and routines are important. In my next diary post, I’ll look at some tricks for helping establish new habits.
In the meantime, quit reading my blog post and get back to studying 🙂