Feeling overwhelmed or upset by the news of a hard Victorian lockdown? We are too.
2021 is off to an interesting start. With a steady easing of restrictions those of us in Melbourne started to experience a new COVID normal, with so much valued freedom. So, the news today that we are going back into a hard lockdown at midnight can be hard to process.
For those of us living with complex mental health issues or with a history of trauma, the suddenness of this lockdown could be a trigger for mental health symptoms and high distress.
It’s really important we take care of ourselves during this lockdown, and the first step is to acknowledge whatever we may feel in response, it’s valid.
You might have heard a variety of responses to the announcement. Some people might be responding with humour, disappointment, frustration, or dismissiveness. Some may even be relieved that plans are cancelled.
Whatever you are hearing from other people, if you are feeling something more intense or upsetting, like grief, anger, helplessness, or panic, respect that your own response is completely valid. Try not to judge your own reaction, it is what it is.
Most of us had to develop a whole range of strategies to help us manage the last hard lockdown, which we have now been able to let go of with more access to the outside world. If you are noticing negative emotions come up in response to today’s news, it might be time to remind yourself some of these strategies.
Chances are that your plans for the next five days have been thrown up in the air. Rather than resign yourself to time alone, be proactive and plan times to connect with others. This can soothe your nervous system and put things into perspective. Plan a video chat or phone call, play a game online with friends, or watch a show or movie at the same time. SANE’s supportive online forum community is also available 24/7 if you want to connect.
Don’t underestimate the importance of keeping to a routine that gives you structure and meets your body’s basic needs. If you are struggling, plan out a routine for the next five days that includes regular hours for eating and sleeping, and makes time to relax, connect, and exercise. Planning activities that keep your mind interested and active will also reduce your mind’s time for worry or rumination.
Sometimes when we’re overwhelmed, reaching out to someone we know is doing it tough can give us a sense of meaning. News of the hard lockdown might be especially difficult for people living alone, those who have anxiety disorders, or who have just changed their routines around school in order for it to be disrupted again. Your gesture doesn’t have to be anything heroic, a simple text to say you’re thinking of someone can work wonders.
Mindfulness and grounding strategies are really powerful for managing anxiety and for bringing us back into the present when our minds are buzzing about the future. If you find you are overwhelmed, try a mindfulness app like Smiling Mind or Headspace. If sitting still doesn’t work for you mindfulness can also be active – find an activity that helps you stay in the present. For a lot of people listening to music, singing, doing something creative, or exercising provides this.
We got through a hard lockdown in Melbourne before, so we know we have the tools to do it again. Trust in your ability to manage this and be active in reminding yourself of the ways you know to take care of yourself.
Taking care of yourself also involves reaching out for professional support when you need it. If you’re struggling, we’re here for you with Counselling support from Monday - Friday, 10am - 10pm AEST. Our team of counsellors are available by phone, web chat and email, so you can comfortably communicate in the way that feels best for you.
If you'd like to chat with other people who understand what you're going through, the SANE Forums are online 24/7. There's one Forum for Lived Experience, and another for family, friends or carers. The Forums are anonymous, and moderated by health professionals, to keep the conversation safe and supportive.