“Most importantly, we play Scrabble!’

By Emily May and VMIAC’s Members

Easter can be a difficult time for some, and with the additional anxiety and stress from physical distancing due to COVID-19, it can feel even more daunting. Everyone has their own ways of coping; here’s how some of our VMIAC members are handling it.  

“First of all, conversation”

As we navigate this world of unknown, social connectedness is more key than ever, which is why the term ‘social distancing’ is extremely unhelpful. Social solidarity is fundamental to us as a community getting through this together.

One of our members “makes personal phone calls” to friends, where they “all chat and keep up with everyone’s news”. Others “FaceTime family” and “reach out” to loved ones near and far. You can even play “games with family” over video or phone.

If you are isolating with others, talk to one another, discuss your problems, and spend quality time together.  

“Talk to a friend and open your heart to them and tell them your woes.”

“Take in the evening news and make sure I don’t overload on every news broadcast”

Keeping up to date with the state of play may be important to you, but do not overload yourself. There is an abundance of negative and fake news out there, so make sure you are sourcing facts from credible and accurate sources.

One member keeps their “phone on flight mode until midday” to help “start their day in a more positive way.”

If the news is intensifying your anxiety, turn it off.

“I don’t have weights but put books in shopping bags”

We all know that exercise is good for us, not just physically but mentally. Movement of the body is different for many people, so listen to what your body wants and needs. Some members “go for a walk”, Others “use Qi Gong” and “chanting” to “placate the body building peace.”

One member is doing “30 days of Yoga with Adriene on YouTube, which “not only gets you moving and relaxes the mind, it also gives you a goal each day to aim towards”.

‘Look at the sky to keep grounded’

If you are able to, spending quality time outside can be wonderfully beneficial!

Forest Therapy, also called Forest Bathing, is excellent for people’s mental health and physical health, so make some time to go out into nature.” Feeling the “fresh air, although it is a mighty struggle opening the front door” and getting “into your garden” or local park “with bare feet and feel that reconnection with the Earth.

It can be easy and comforting to stay inside, but it’s also good to remember there is more to the world than inside our four walls. If you are unable to get outside, spend time looking through relaxing photos of nature, whether it’s “mountains or the beach; lakes or the stars”, find what comforts you.

“Sleeping”

After reaching out to our members to find ways they cope, someone replied simply with, “Sleeping.”

This couldn’t be more accurate! If I had to focus on just one thing to get through this period of our lives with good health and well-being, quality sleep would be it.

Good sleep can improve concentration, productivity and your immune system; give your body and mind energy to invest in other things; as well as affect emotions and social interactions. All elements that are important, not just during this time.

“Having jobs to do daily”

With our everyday life completely disrupted, we now need to find our new routine.

Have activities planned” for the day, “and if they get done or not, it’s ok”, but having an idea of what your day will consist of can ease your anxieties by eliminating the unknown. One member has had the chance to “focus on Uni work” dedicating their time to “staying on top of that.” Others, who unfortunately have lost their full-time jobs, are “enrolling on free online courses, such as graphic design.

“Doing video calls with support staff”

Connecting with medical staff through Telehealth is now accessible for those who need or want it, with some of our members saying they were “speaking to their therapy team” and “found psychologists they can do Telehealth with.”

“Most importantly, we play the board game Scrabble!’

Without the everyday interactions we are used to, we are having to explore other ways to entertain ourselves and stimulate our minds, whilst we maintain physical distancing. Whether it’s “watching cute and funny puppy and kitten videos on YouTube” or “creative writing”, there is something out there to interest us all.  

Use this time to explore what you enjoy. Our members are

watching “amazing films and TV series” and “the iview documentary on Easter in Australia”; whilst others are “cooking and baking”. You could delve into what you used to love: “Re-discovering the music I enjoyed in my 20’s”.

Find a healthy way to get a “nice distraction from the constant flood of information about current circumstances.”

“Accepting the as-is”

COVID-19 has brought with it a lot of distress, but this time will pass. Maintaining “positive mindfulness” is crucial to us all coping through this time. Assess what is and isn’t in your control, and build a healthy lifestyle around this. Go easy on yourself; do what feels right for you, and listen to your body and mind.

Most importantly, make sure that you are forever “kind to yourself and gentle to everyone”.