My Mental Lockdown
Am not sure about you, at first I thought lock down wouldn’t be that bigger deal. I figured it would be nice to not have to travel to work in traffic every day and then fight the traffic again at the end of the day to get home. I would no longer need to rush in the mornings and instead ease into my day with a decaf coffee / tea after a yoga and meditation session.
On the odd day I had previously worked from home, I got so much more done and figured this lock down would be no different and work wouldn’t be the stressor it had been for me. I would be calmer, more at peace within myself.
I wasn’t fazed at not being able to going into the office as I caught up with my beloved work colleagues daily via Microsoft Teams.
I thought I would be perfectly fine… and then I wasn’t. Now don’t get me wrong, nothing bad has happened and there are plenty of people who I am sure are worse off than me. I guess what I didn’t think about, was how would I be if it went any longer than a couple of weeks. How I would turn into a control freak who got frustrated at the drop of a hat, suffer from anxiety and overwhelm, and just felt a total loss of control. I didn’t like it one bit.
I think the tipping point for me was the extension of the current lock down in Sydney. It triggered me in ways I was totally not expecting nor prepared for. You may remember me talking about my pregnancy loss in an earlier blog. Now not that I am expecting to be all peachy keen about it now, but my goodness the frustration that began in the pit of my stomach and angrily rose upwards tightening in my chest. Feeling a sense of anxiety and overwhelm sink in was not pretty let me tell you. Tears flowed, I vented in rage, screamed obscenities at the world that I felt was conspiring against me. Ok enough about the drama Dianne.
While I have always known I have control tendencies, they were well and truly heightened recently. Picture a hectic workplace that is significantly under resourced, creating quite stressful work days if I am being totally honest. The announcement lockdown has been extended and then the real kicker – I was notified I was a possible close contact and needed to self-isolate for 14 days. I was cleared the next day but still needed to see out my time in self-isolation.
Now at the time I thought to myself it was an opportunity to focus on me and think about what self-care means for me (something I had neglected of late). And in reality there was no reason it couldn’t have been.
It was a nightmare. My goodness more tears, frustrations, anxiety, all the while experiencing a huge range of emotions that at times felt over whelming. My want to control was kicking in big time and I was at odds between it and the reality of our situation with COVID-19. I soon noticed I was always in a bad or down mood, I would often cry during the day, I would lose my temper easily and my sleep was erratic.
I realised the signs of what I had experienced 5 years ago were trying to creep back in. That jolted me to tell myself I was not going back to that darkness again.
So what did I do?
Well I booked in to see my psychologist and spoke through my feelings and where they were coming from (i.e. not from work but from inner child trauma that had been triggered) and exercises to release those feelings and frustrations.
I took a couple of days off work to decompress, rest and engage in some self-love and self-care. During those days off, I enjoyed some sunshine, quiet time, reading, sleep, nourishing my body with healthy foods and relaxing movement. Having discovered Hatha Yoga- which focuses on slowing down and grounding into the body. Realising I was letting the hype of the media scare me and triggers my fears.
I had lost control of me. And I now had a choice to make. To continue down the path of despair or regain my power. To continue simmering in the fiction, or assess the facts and decide what I want to do about them.
I chose the latter and began to notice a huge shift in my mindset. While I had no control over the pandemic there was still a lot within my power if I just looked for it. While I can’t control the world I can control my thoughts, where I focus and where I put my energies.
So what did I learn?
The importance of self-love and self-care has always been a bit of an abyss for me. If I am honest it also felt a little indulgent and only for when I had time. Now I get it theoretically how important taking care of me is, and that includes taking time out to refresh, rest and recharge. I think what didn’t click for me until recently was how important it was to do all of those things every day/ week/ month as part of my schedule. So when I am planning out my week, I prioritise time for self-care.
Consider, what are your go to self-care tips?
Lastly I also revisited my mentor @Tonya Leigh Week of Calm and Week of Gratitude series (links below). I had discovered the Week of Calm late December 2020 and it opened my eyes to a new way of thinking, reflecting on my thoughts and how they impact on my emotions. Realising what is and isn’t within my control. In my search for calm I created stress.
One of my favourite quotes from Tonya “Only when you give up control of the things you can’t control will you experience calm”. Life has always been and always will be uncertain and full of change.
As I write to you and share a snippet of my lock down experience, I am listening to Day 5 from A Week of Calm, journaling about my triggers and where they are coming from to better understand them. I have begun to let go of my need to control circumstances outside of my control and others actions/ inaction. I know it creates stress in me which is terrible for my energy and the temple that is my body.
So I leave you with this….. how are you taking care of you (the mental, physical, social, emotional and spiritual you)… Is it time for a check in to see how you are going and where you may need/ want to make some changes/ tweaks?
I’d love to know where you are at, what your thought of this month’s blog and most importantly how you are managing your mentality during lock down J
Where to get help
If you’re concerned about a friend or loved one, ask them how you can help. The first step for a person with symptoms of a mental health disorder is to see a doctor or other healthcare professional.
- Beyond Blue - call 1300 22 4636
- ReachOut (mental health support for young people online) - online help
- SANE Australia - call 1800 18 7263