7 Tips on Surviving Lockdown and Isolation at Home During a Pandemic

For some time at Gentleman & Son we have been doing our part to help reduce coronavirus transmissions in our community. We have done this through social distancing, self isolation, working from home, wearing a mask indoors, limiting our exposure to other risks of infection and following strict hygiene guidelines. This also includes eliminating unnecessary trips out in our local area. We are 100% committed. We also try and stay informed on all directives from local and federal government and the health experts as they come through. Most importantly we have too much respect and admiration for our frontline folk to flout the rules regarding distancing and isolation.

With that being said and with hard lockdown rules being at the forefront of the fight against this virus, how do we manage the challenge of cabin fever, anxiety, a lack of hope and social isolation, now that we are cooped up at home 99% of the time day in, day out? We knew it would be tricky, but then we asked our go-to mental health expert (from a gentlemanly safe distance) Dr Cindy Nour from Mindframe Psychology for some very simple manageable tips on keeping our sanity during these confronting times. Here are seven simple tips we were given to help us cope:

Tip #1 - Reduce your daily dosage of news consumption ...you’ve probably heard it already
So much news about the number of Covid-19 cases, coronavirus, lockdowns and mass unemployment is repeated throughout the day across numerous channels, feeds and platforms. It has been recommended to us to consciously listen to less news, reduce our scrolling on social media, filter content and turn off notifications where you can. So, if it’s not new news, and you have heard it before, skip it!

Tip #2 - If confined or working from home try and set yourself a daily routine
Whether you have been asked to work from home, have reduced hours or have been unfortunate to have lost your job like so many others over the past 18 months, it is important that you still set a daily routine that you can easily follow. Get up at the same time each day as if you were heading to work, and get dressed making sure you take pride in your appearance even if you are only going as far as the letterbox to collect your mail or putting out the bins.

Look good, smell good, feel good gents! Dressing smartly also means foregoing the temptation to get into your “tracky dacks”. DON’T DO IT! It is also good to set small achievable daily goals for yourself so that you can keep your motivation up. The less you do, the less you want to do and so sets in the lethargy cycle. Now, the problem with lethargy is that it can maintain a low mood. And given that we might be in lockdown for the next little while, it is important not to succumb to lethargy.

The strategy for this is to do one thing for pleasure and one thing for achievement each day. This is called Behavioural Activation, a proven strategy to help you get on top of lethargy and improve your mood.

Tip #3 - Make sure to include some “huffy puffy” exercise as part of your weekly routine
We don’t know if “huffy puffy” is a clinical term but I think we all get the idea gents. Just get your heart rate going and break a little sweat for at least 30 minutes 4-5 times a week. The options are endless and you don’t need equipment either. It's hard to be anxious when you are exercising, and exercise is a great way to help improve your mood.

Tip #4 - Find NEW healthy coping strategies
Unfortunately, many of our normal coping strategies during stressful periods such as the gym or catching up with friends over brunch, coffee or drinks are no longer an option for us. Try to think new strategies to help you cope. Is it time to take up online yoga...anyone? It’s your call. Coping strategies could be as simple as listening to relaxing music to unwind, twirling your mo, stroking your beard or getting lost in a good show or movie. We’d probably avoid movies such as Contagion, Outbreak and Twelve Monkeys.

Tip #5 - Just because you can doesn’t mean you should
Working from home and choosing to start drinking early now that you don’t have to drive somewhere doesn’t mean you should. We know that alcohol is a depressant and this is an important time to watch your mental health and do proactive things to help manage your mood. It is not just your physical health which is vital these days. If you find that you drink too much, this is a great time to cut down. Cheers to your friends on that Zoom party with a non-alcoholic beer, they will never know the difference!

Tip #6 - With uncertainty there is always some certainty. Find the certainty in your situation
Given that this is a highly stressful experience for many of us, some anxiety, uncertainty and concern about the future is very normal. Remind yourself that there are some certainties in this situation. The sun will rise again tomorrow and one day this crisis will be all over. 

Tip #7 - Staying Hopeful
It is hard to stay hopeful when the news is full of numbers increasing daily even under this current lockdown. However, look out for your pessimistic thinking and a lack of hope about the future. Things have been dragging out and it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that this will be a forever situation. However, nothing is forever and in time we won’t be under lockdown. The cure for a lack of hope is having something to look forward to in the future. Aim for something simple and small. Focus on simple pleasures. The day will come when the coronavirus will be old news. Hang in there, we are all in this together.

If you need to talk to a professional...
Our mental health is important to us so if you are struggling or need further help to cope with the stressors and anxiety caused by the virus, lockdown and economic fallout there is a lot of assistance out there. You can call your local GP or GP practice, a mental health professional and for Australians one of the many mental health services available including:

Beyond Blue - 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline - 13 11 14
MensLine - 1300 78 99 78

#weareallinthistogether #flattenthecurve #stayathome #getvaccinated

Blog Contributor - Dr Cindy Nour, Clinical Psychologist, Mindframe Psychology, Sydney NSW 2000.