Victorians are currently in the midst of their sixth lockdown. Lockdown has become somewhat of a strange new-normal for the state since the Covid pandemic took grip of the world 18 months ago.
Each lockdown impacts people differently. Some people no doubt welcome the slower pace of life; an opportunity to bunker down, spend more time at home and dial back the always-have-to-be-somewhere button. Others mourn lost plans, struggle with the altered routine and crave a greater amount of human interaction (or maybe less interaction, if you ask some parents that have students learning from home). Of course, many people sway between both; appreciating the unexpected positives that come with lockdown-life and at the same time begrudging the limitations that are put in place.
In any case stress, anxiety and tension in the community amidst debate over vaccinations and government decisions, as well as limited opportunities for exercise and social interaction can have a negative impact physical and emotional wellbeing. So now, more than ever we need to be aware of our own health (physical, mental and social) and look for way to maintain or improve it, despite the challenging circumstances of current times.
Circumstances will vary from person-to-person but this our Top 6 Ways to stay happy and healthy throughout Covid.
1. Be active. Every day.
Exercise has long been prescribed for an extensive list of ailments. It is also the perfect antidote to lockdown doldrums. Whether it’s for a long walk in the morning or evening, an online workout or short bursts of activity throughout the day – keep active. Exercise can help increase energy, boost mood, control weight and promote better sleep.
2. Be kind.
Be aware that during this time everyone is experiencing a roller-coaster of emotions. The rude supermarket attendant may have been abused multiple times that day for asking customers to check-in, the person who pushed in front of you in line might be distracted by the fact that they have a sick relative that they can’t visit, the operator on the line at the bank help-desk might be trying to work from home whilst also home-schooling young children. Take a few deep breaths. Project kindness, understanding and empathy. Being kind to other people can actually boost your own self-esteem and improve your mood. Being kind can even decrease blood pressure and reduced the levels of stress hormone cortisol in your body.
3. Eat nourishing foods
In an emotional state, it is common for people to reach for vices such as chocolate, wine and potato chips. Whilst doing this from time to time is fine, doing it repetitively isn’t going to help manage the stressful feelings – and in fact it could exacerbate them.
Many wholesome foods can help manage stress – like oatmeal and other complex carbs that can boost the calming chemical serotonin and foods high in Omega-3s that can prevent surges in stress hormones. Other wholesome foods that help combat stress and anxiety are Brazil nuts and pumpkin seeds, eggs, dark chocolate, turmeric, cinnamon, chamomile and yogurt. Foods that are high in magnesium like spinach, avocados, legumes, whole grains and bananas that can also help to regulate the release of stress hormones like cortisol.
4. Support local
There’s no doubt about it that businesses are doing it tough right now and that had a big impact on everyone. Small business accounts for almost half of the employment in the private sector. Small businesses often define the character of a city, attract visitors to the town and, most importantly plunge a high percentage of their profits back into the local economy; through rates, the use of other suppliers and employment. Now more than ever, supporting local businesses is important to the long-term survival of the local economy and to maintain positive spirit for the community in these challenging times.
Many small businesses have had to change the way they operate – some are offering takeaway, click and collect, home delivery or are providing online experiences. Where you can, support your local businesses. It doesn’t even need to be financially if you’re not in a position to do so. You can support local business by following and liking them on social media, sharing their information and telling other people about what the business offers.
5. Get rest
Being active is important but so too is finding the time for rest and relaxation. Sleep helps to restore energy and repair the body. Getting the right amount of sleep helps you feel energised, focused and more even-tempered. With adequate rest you will be better equipped to deal with the daily challenges that life in “lockdown” throws your way.
Likewise, activities that promote relaxation (like mediation, breathing exercises or quiet tasks such as reading, doing a jigsaw puzzle or some sort of craft activity) can reduce stress, anxiety, improve your immune system and decrease blood pressure.
Make rest and relaxation part of a daily routine, so that you have regular times to eat, sleep, read and exercise.
6. Seek help
Sadly, the Covid-situation has the capacity contribute to and worsen long-term mental illness such as anxiety, depression, PTSD and substance abuse as well as increase the prevalence of domestic violence.
Seek help if you are experiencing unwanted thoughts, feelings and behaviours a lot of the time or they are affecting your daily life in a negative way.
The following services are available 24/7
Lifeline Australia | 13 11 14
Lifeline New Zealand | 0800 543 354
Kids Helpline | 1800 55 1800
MensLine Australia | 1300 78 99 78
Suicide Call Back Service | 1300 659 467
Beyond Blue | 1300 22 4636
Open Arms – Veterans & Families Counselling | 1800 011 046
Hopefully, lockdowns quickly become a thing of the past that we no longer have to stay on high alert for. But in the meantime, respecting one another and taking responsibility for our own health is paramount for getting through these strange and challenging times as best we can.