It’s okay to feel a variety of emotions throughout this new environment we are currently living in. At first it may have seemed great to be able to stay at home all the time, but it’s also normal to start missing friends and family as well as your usual routine, classes and activities – and maybe even just the simple things like going to the movies, or dinners out with your social group.

Now that it’s become clear that these new measures to protect our health and safety aren’t just a fleeting precaution – that we may be keeping isolated for months to come –  it’s also natural to feel somewhat dejected or anxious. Supporting our overall health (mental, physical and emotional) is essential to ensuring we get through the current challenges and come out the other side as the best version of ourselves we can be. Below we’ve provided some suggestions to support you and your loved ones during this period of self isolation and hope that when we emerge from our houses into the light, we are all stronger, healthier and happier than before.

EAT NOURISHING WHOLE FOODS

While we’re spending more time at home it’s easy to just reach for the most convenient thing on the shelf. But sometimes the most convenient thing isn’t always the best thing for us. What we should try to be eating (and not just through this time but most of the time) is whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are minimally processed. In their whole form, their nutrient profiles are much higher than foods that are packaged and processed, therefore supporting and providing our bodies with the essential vitamins and minerals it needs. More than 90% of the serotonin (the feel good hormone) our body produces occurs in our gut so if we aren’t feeding it properly, we aren’t going to get that warm and fuzzy feel we all enjoy.

Easy ways to include more whole foods in your diet is by snacking on fruit and vegetables (celery boats are super easy – cut your celery stalks into bite size pieces and then fill the centre with any nut butter you prefer), or making swaps in your diet. Choose the wholegrain bread over white, pasta made from legumes instead of wheat, or bake with wholemeal flour instead of white flour. Think of all those recipes you saved away for a rainy day. Pull them out and try to create the end result with as many whole foods as possible.

MOVE YOUR BODY

Moving your body gets your heart beating and blood flowing. By increasing blood flow, we increase the transportation of oxygen and nutrients. Movement also supports the flow of lymph throughout the body. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system and contains white blood cells which assist with fighting infections. It’s responsible for removing toxins and bacteria from the body and only flows around the body from physical movement or manual stimulation – so we need to get those bodies moving.

You can move your body in any way you prefer. Whether that be going for a walk with your pup, following a workout tutorial, doing a yoga class or trying an online dance class.

STAY CONNECTED WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Connection is important for our physical and mental wellbeing. Strong ties with family and friends provide us with happiness, support, security, and a sense of purpose. With the social distancing measures that have been put in place, it can feel like you’ve been cut off and separated from most, if not all, of your social interactions. But social distancing doesn’t mean withdrawing from society. Alternatively, it’s an invitation to contribute and connect in different ways.

Make regular calls, FaceTimes, Zoom chats or “Houseparty’s” with loved ones, go old school and post a letter or organise a delivery of little care packages to show those that you care about you are still thinking of them. Another way to support yourself is through self-connection. Write a journal about your experiences during this time. It will help you sort out how you’re thinking and feeling and it can also be a piece of self reflection to look back on when we have returned to ‘normal’.

TRY SOMETHING NEW

With the extra time we have been given recently, it allows us the opportunity to try things we haven’t before. This is the chance to explore the interests we haven’t had the time to commit to. You could ‘go green’ and start a veggie patch or herb garden. Or you could start a bit smaller and get an indoor plant (yes, a real one!) or a singular potted plant for outside. You could also try a virtual tour of some of the best museums and galleries around the world.

The NGV (National Gallery of Victoria) is doing virtual tours, as is the Louvre in Paris and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York so you can be surrounded by art and culture from around the world without leaving the comfort of your couch! Another great one to have a look at is the Royal Melbourne Zoo with their live stream cameras around the grounds, allowing you to peep on the animals whenever you please. Other ideas you could look into are cross stitching, candle making, painting, photography, scrapbooking or attempting a new sport or dance style you haven’t tried before.

ALLOW YOURSELF TO FEEL WHAT YOU’RE FEELING

It’s completely understandable and not uncommon to feel overwhelmed with everything that’s happening currently. It’s also okay to not know how you’re feeling. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. While it may seem inspiring and innovative to create this virtual connection, it may also lead to pressure and unspoken expectations for some. If you feel this may be you, step back from social media and news updates and give yourself a moment to have a break.

Schedule yourself some guilt-free down time and do those activities you enjoy. Not being productive isn’t a waste of time. Supporting your mental health is just as important as your physical health and shouldn’t be neglected. Once you’re comfortable again within yourself, step back into the virtual world but at a pace that suits you.

With the measures that have been put in place to ensure the health and safety of our community, it can lead to feelings of overwhelm or concern. However, by implementing some (or all) of the listed suggestions, we can use this time to support ourselves and those we love, possibly learn some new skills or just have some guilt-free downtime, which is often a rarity in this fast paced world we live in!

If you feel like you may need a bit of extra support and help throughout this period there are some great online and phone services available. Listed below are just some of the resources you can reach out to:
Beyond Blue
Reach Out
Headspace