Here we go again

And just like that, half the Australian population is stuck at home again. Having lockdown fatigue (thinking of you, Melbourne) and wondering how to get through this latest episode of Groundhog Day? Here are some ways to help you stay on the right side of sanity.

Let’s start on a positive note: while this lockdown may seem like déjà vu, we have come a long way since February 2020.

Think back a year and you’ll remember the collective anxiety we all felt. A new virus, new terminology like flattening the curve and social distancing, and no way of knowing how the world would change. We were endlessly doom scrolling, bingeing Netflix, home-schooling the kids, keeping our cats off our laptops and of course, making sourdough. Ideally, all at the same time because, whatever.

Research shows that the 2020 lockdowns were associated with poorer mental health due to financial stress, concerns about contracting COVID-19, disruptions to work or study and separation from friends and family.

Of course, this is still 100% the case right now. But the anxiety of the great unknown is no longer a major factor. We enter this lockdown armed with knowledge and information. We know the damage the virus can do. There’s even the tiniest of lights at the end of the tunnel – vaccination. Yes, we agree with Bill Shorten that the rollout is a #sh1tshow but the great unknown is… well, a bit more known.

So while this lockdown is an absolute slap in the face, now is not the time to doom scroll. Here are some tips to keep you on the right side of sanity.

1) Meditation apps are booming in our pandemic world and well-loved artists such as Erykah Badu, Diplo, Sufjan Stevens and Alicia Keys are contributing their sounds. Interested? Here are two great reads from the New York Times – Meditation Apps want us to chill out and The Atlantic on the question how and if meditation apps actually work.

2) Outta here If you can, use the time as an opportunity to plan your way out. Closed borders have meant skilled migration is at an all-time low and a skills shortage is appearing. Time to update your skills or spend some more time on LinkedIn if you’re looking for something else. A raft of free courses (up to advanced diploma level) is available through TAFE for jobseekers.

3) Ignore that Going back to point 2 – life planning will fill many with dread. And, right now, that’s totally ok. Acknowledge how you feel and instead focus on the things you can still do and enjoy doing to make your day better. Good enough is good enough.

4) Who’s in your bubble? Keeping in touch with others helps avoid isolation – phone catch-up or go for a walk together. Plan these catchups so they are in your diary. Here is some inspiration from our blog last year – most of the tips still ring true today.

5) No can do Look, we all have the hang of WFH by now with ergonomic setups and seamless Zoom connections. We don’t even hear the “you’re on mute” comment much anymore. But in case you forgot, working from home increases the tendency to work harder and for longer hours. So how can you further improve your work/life balance? Plan breaks, work within certain hours and switch off afterwards.

Remember, if you feel like you may not be coping, talk to a GP you trust, call a telephone counselling service, or contact a mental health professional. They can help assess whether you might benefit from additional support or treatment.

If this article has raised issues for you, or if you’re concerned about someone you know, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.