Last month I wrote about some tips I learnt during lockdown 1.0 that would get me through lockdown 2.0. I think they worked, I think. To be honest, it feels like someone has lifted my brain out of my head and left it to soak with the dirty dishes. But one (1) thing jerked me out of this funk: the announcement of stage 4 restrictions. Fucking hell.
So here is a sign, a reminder, or whatever you want to call it, to look after yourself. “Treat yourself” to me used to mean shoving 12 dumplings down my food chute on a Friday night after work and getting drunk. “Treat yourself” now means turning off my phone for a night.
I’m not a psych or an expert in any way, I’m just another Victorian once again staring down the barrel of another six weeks of lockdown.
With this in mind, here’s a list of everything I’m going to do to get me to (at least) Sunday, September 13.
1. Normalise answering lockdown questions with “pretty shit” some more
My friends, including my partner, who live in Sydney have all been asking me the same question: “How is Melbourne?” Which is fine and understandable, but I’m pretty tired of answering, “yeah, we’re doing as well as we can” or just “good” when I particularly cannot be bothered to small-talk. So instead, I’m just going to answer honestly, whether that means explaining how sad I am that my desk plant is beyond dead by now or how I’m struggling with the thought of not being able to hug my friends, colleagues, and partner for another six weeks.
2. Check in on each other
If I’m feeling burnt out, alone, sad, hopeless, and depressed, there’s probably a solid chance my mates are too. Even if your friend isn’t in the mood to chat that day, at least they know you’re there. At least they know they’re not alone, and neither are you.
I have this thing with my friends where at least once a week we’ll check in on each other. Just a “yoohoooo, wanna rant while we play Animal Crossing?”
It’s also just nice to talk about the future, even though it can be sad. At least it’s something to look forward to. Or sometimes, I like to bond over the little things, like this new thing I tried or an online purchase I made.
3. Don’t invalidate your feelings
Somebody will or already does have it worse than you, but that doesn’t mean you should put yourself down or invalidate your feelings. If you’re having a shit one, let yourself have a shit one.
4. Cut off the bullshit
It is not my (your) responsibility to convince that one person you know on social media to wear a mask or stay inside or to not be racist and so on and so forth. Fuck ’em. Just let them be. Block, mute, ignore, unfollow – do what you need to do.
5. Get my sweat on
I’ve quoted her once, I’ll quote her again. I don’t care if this isn’t accurate, Elle Woods shall not be disrespected.
Listen to Elle Woods, be like Elle Woods.
I still hate exercising, I absolutely hate it, but it’s another (and healthier) way to relieve tension that isn’t going on a bender.
This doesn’t mean I’m doing a HIIT workout every day, either. Sometimes I just need to get sweaty to the tunes of One Direction.
6. Go outside
Going for a walk and looking at things that aren’t the four walls of your bedroom or living room feels positively freeing. As per the new restrictions, we must limit our exercise to once a day and for one hour only. Don’t forget your mask!
Personally, when none of the above work and I feel overwhelmed and full of angst, I just do a big cry – a big fucking cathartic cry. I did this two Fridays ago after I finished work. I did a big cry and then I napped for an hour and then I binged The Great. It was, well, great. I didn’t feel better immediately, but I felt some pressure relief and my mood improved over the rest of the weekend.
Some days you just need to sob, y’know? Good shit.
8. Clock off, switch off
If you are working from home, clock off when it’s time to clock off. Don’t give yourself ten more minutes, because that’s absolutely going to turn into 30 more minutes. You know it will.
I still suck at this. It’s just very easy to hang around a little bit longer when you’re already home. But it sucks and we shouldn’t be doing it.
And when you do clock off, allow yourself some time to switch off as well. However you choose to do it – whether that be a good puzzle, Animal Crossing, yoga, sex, baking – please give yourself some time to switch off.
Going to sleep stressed and anxious can eat my ass.
Help is available.
If this article has affected you in any way, or you would like to talk to someone, please call headspace on 1800 650 890, Lifeline on 13 11 14 or the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467. If you are in immediate danger, call 000.