Here is the water cooler conversation or kitchen chat I would be having if I was in the office:

ME: I like your shoes

THEM: Thanks, they’re old, I got them on
sale at Myer years ago

ME: I like a bit of Leo Pard

THEM: Have you been watching Tiger King?

ME: No – I think I’m the only one who hasn’t!

THEM: It’s so bad I can’t stop watching

ME: I’ve been watching Ozark

THEM: Do you need the milk?

ME: Thanks

THEM: How was your Easter, did you go away?

And that’s where everything changes. This is where we have never been before. Everyone goes camping at Easter or spends time with family or has a three-day movie marathon. Not for us. Not any of us. Not now. Our routine has changed drastically. For many this is a real struggle. I’m not even in an office, I haven’t been for about 18 months, I should be okay with social isolation but stepping into the fifth week with kids and everyone at home, I’m mainly just trying to hold my shit together.

Some of the things that have helped me are getting outside every day. I’m so much in my head that it’s been helpful for me to walk and bring the energy and focus back to my body. I’ve taken to long morning walks on the beach with my dog. He’s loving it. He then can sleep most of the day. I’m noticing things I’ve not really paid attention to before. I notice the swell and the push of the tide; I hear bird calls and try to identify them by note alone. I watch sunlight sparkling on the bay and dapple the pathway with shady and brighter spots.

I’m still in my head but I’m distracted by Jasper, what is he smelling now, why has he stopped right there, what is he eating? I’m watching the families in their boats reversing down the ramp, some with eskies, fishing rods and dogs. I notice that even though the council has covered all the picnic tables with orange mesh and cable ties, people have still found places to sit on rocks, benches and the stone wall. They chat as they sit the required one point five metres apart and look out over the water. I smile and say hello to other walkers and families getting soaking up the still-warm autumn sun. Some mornings I am lucky to see someone I know who asks how I am and instead of a cheery fine thanks how are you? reply it’s become I’m okay how are you all holding up? It’s become a time to really step in and support each other.

I’ve noticed because I am still working but not having any face to face meetings, I’m starved for interaction with people, my children will tell you, I’m not fussy about the people, I very often chat to strangers, about the weather, current affairs, their lives. My girls stand beside me and look away so I can’t see them raising their eyes to the heavens. I like gleaning new information, local history, I like finding a common interest or feeling, now it seems we are all feeling a similar thing. When will this all stop? When can I hug my friends? When can we go back to normal? This is the unknown.

Here’s a few things I am trying to do which are helpful.

Meditate – I need to sometimes make the thinking and anxiety stop, or take a break from my own thoughts. Insight Timer has been the best app that has ever been recommended to me. With over 50,000 free guided meditations, music and sound therapy there’s something wrong with you if you can’t find one you like. Thank you Kari.

Smile and talk positively to others – Smile at strangers, throw out a compliment – I like your shoes! Most of us are social creatures and are starved of social interaction right now.

Contemplate – Find some place for you to get me time – escape the kids, family and four walls by taking a walk – you don’t have to have a dog. Listen to music. Music has been proven to raise your vibration on a cellular level. Sing. Scan through your music for songs that take you to happy times. Take a candle-lit bubble bath. I did this and lasted five minutes, but it was still relaxing.

Eat well – I think like many others, I snacked my way through the first few weeks of being told I had to stay home. It took me quite a while to realise if I ate a decent breakfast and lunch I didn’t need to snack. Also if I spent less time watching Netflix I didn’t need the snackompany. (I know it isn’t a word, but seriously – it should be.)

Move – walk, run, do some yoga online – Yoga with Adriene is nice. If you are a member of a gym you could look at their online classes. I did that for a few minutes then I needed a little lie down. Get some sunshine and fresh air for all the feel-good hormones. It’s really nice because all the fit, firm people are out and you can take inspiration from that or just watch them, discretely behind sunglasses.

Try to cut down on alcohol – Here’s the bad news, alcohol lowers your immune system by impairing liver function. It also makes you a little maudlin as it is a depressant. It can also make you rustle round in the pantry looking for some salty snackompany. See how easy it is to use in a sentence?

Routine – I have heard so many people say try to stick to a routine. Easy to say, but seriously, what if your routine is so dismantled you don’t even know what day it is anymore? Make sure you shower, dress and do as many regular things as you can including eating at your normal times.

Connection – Try to stay connected to friends and family, think about setting up zoom chats for friends and family as well as for work meetings. If you are not working, call someone, call friends and see how they are doing. Connection is so important right now.

Choose your media – select what you want to watch like upbeat movies or comedies and don’t watch too much Covid Reporting. Anxiety and worry throw the body into panic mode and increase your adrenalin, reducing your immunity. Choose one trusted source and check it once a day. Don’t listen to Joan from down the road who puts the fear of God into you saying her cousin’s husband in Albury-Wodonga got it twice, infected his whole workplace, then died. Joan is not a trusted source. Try ABC news the government app or your state health website.

As Edie Brickell sang Everything is temporary.” These are the things I keep reminding myself.

Rachel Wilkinson is a Holistic Counsellor, massage therapist, reiki master and kids’ yoga teacher. Normally she would see clients face to face for individual, family or couples counselling, as well as offering remedial massage, reiki and NDIS support. With current restrictions she is offering tele-health phone calls or Skype and Zoom sessions across Brisbane and the Bayside. Get in touch by mobile: 0402 329 259 or email: website or FB messenger.