Despite not having access to our usual forms of exercise, movement is still a great way to boost endorphins, keep your body working and make you feel like you accomplished something worthwhile. In my time in quarantine, I started to feel extremely restless, so much so that it would impact my mood and shorten my fuse for dealing with others. The days I forced myself to follow along with a 30-minute stretching video on YouTube were definitely the days I felt more at ease and less tense. I also took time to simply put music on in my headphones and dance for an hour! It doesn’t have to be a full home gym workout, just enough to get your blood flowing – especially when you’re likely to be sitting around more than usual.
A lockdown is definitely not what any of us would ever ask for, but there can be some silver linings. Personally, I have a tendency to feel that I always have to be doing something “productive”, and have had to train myself over years to accept that resting is not only okay but necessary! In the lockdown, my old ideas came back with a vengeance. I felt I had all this time going to waste and wasn’t getting anything done. What I needed to do was accept that my whole regular life had been turned upside down, and so it was understandable that I wasn’t able to operate as well as usual. Once I tried to be kinder to myself and focus on smaller tasks (such as baking cakes) I was more able to sit back and even enjoy some of the extra down time that the quarantine period offered.
As much as there can be benefits to be found, a quarantine can certainly be a difficult time for anyone. Our normal routines are completely thrown out the window, and many of our usual coping mechanisms aren’t possible. In this time, I found my moods were more volatile than usual, and it was easier to get annoyed by small everyday things. Eventually I realised that I had to cut my partner some extra slack, and work harder to take a breath before leaping to assumptions. We both also needed to practice good communication about how we were feeling, to make sure we got the right balance of closeness and space within the confined environment. This should be useful no matter who you are spending your quarantine with!
While we are stuck with those in our household, and for those who are alone during the lockdown, it becomes even more important to keep in contact with others outside. Luckily, technology makes this easier than ever. In my time in quarantine, I had regular phone calls with my family to see how they were doing, and even reached out to friends I hadn’t spoken to in a while to organise video chats. This was truly one of the things that kept me sane, not only relying on my partner to be my sole source of entertainment and social contact. If phone or video calls aren’t your style, find a friend who is happy to send regular messages, or even find groups on Facebook where you can chat to others with similar interests!
Sometimes, the stress of living in a quarantine can really get to us, and may be more than we are willing to share with friends or family. If you are ever feeling overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety or depression, there are people who can help. eFriend offers 3-15 calls with a peer support worker, who has been through mental health challenges of their own, and can be a great listening ear to whatever you’re dealing with. Alternatively, if your feelings are pushing you towards a crisis point, there are helplines that can help you stay safe. These include LifeLine and the Suicide Callback Service. Never be afraid to reach out to services if you are feeling down. Quarantine can be so hard, but there are supports available to help you through.
This piece was written by one of the ICLA eFriend Peer Support Workers. eFriend is an online platform where you can connect with a trained peer support worker whom has their own lived experience of feeling lonely, isolated, stressed or worried. You can speak to your eFriend Peer via video or phone call. Your eFriend Peer will listen, validate and provide hope. If you like, they can also assist you to identify any other services you may like to try or help you create plans to improve your personal well-being. Or they can simply listen.