Tips for personal and collective wellbeing and resilience during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
The Commons Librarians, inspired by a great conversation with our volunteer crew, distributed a survey to gather tips for lockdown. The survey is still open for you to add your own experiences and suggestions. Here are some of the insights so far.
My experience changes with every lockdown. Some have been so hard. Some have been better… As more lockdowns pass though, I’ve learnt to be gentle and acknowledge I can only do my best.
Our family has reframed ‘lockdown’ to something less jail sentence-like, depending on our mood (and allowing the mood!). Most days, we call them slowdowns (feels like we’ve voluntarily opted to slow down, enjoy being home). Other days, they’re breakdowns (“because we’re breaking down”), meltdowns etc. which help us laugh about it all. And allow each other to feel that way.
Reframe things into a “yes” plan. So rather than thinking of it as a “lockdown restrictions”, I think of it as “COVID containment measures”. Language matters and I choose to form neural pathways through my choice of words that are positively framed.
Thinking of my life as a long piece of string, one end: my birth, the other: my death. I then imagine putting a peg at the beginning of this challenging time and a peg at an approximate point of where the challenge will have passed (and it will)…this helps me shake up my perspective. I can see I’m in the space between the two pegs, in the thick of the challenge itself…one day, the challenge will have passed, the pegs on the string of my life behind me and the rest of my life ahead.
I find thinking of the lifetime of an old, old tree (hundreds of years old) is also helpful for this changed perspective. What a great many massive changes (including floods, fires, births, deaths…) those colossal trees of the Australian landscape must have witnessed, before and since European invasion. COVID and lockdowns are just another change in a series of unending changes but the tree stands tall and strong, bearing witness and absorbing those changes in its growth rings, but not becoming the changes. Letting them pass.
Focusing on bigger issues than lockdown: being in contact with oversea activists puts the Australian context into perspective and keeps us looking out; Being in contact with people in detention similarly gives us a broader context and reminds us that their freedom is ever urgent; Remembering there is an upcoming federal election and that there is huge work to be done on many fronts to effectively prepare for that; Being centered by children who live in the moment and need dinner on the table and help with home work, now.
One of the greatest tricks of capitalism is to convince us our worth is determined by our productivity. That we are only of value to our community if we are the smartest, or working the fastest or the hardest. We are allowed pleasure, and rest and kindness. We are allowed days where nothing gets done.
I look at the trajectory of what’s being achieved in our work, rather than the data points of the every day. If I look at the data points from day to day, I feel frustrated (not doing enough because I’m supporting three children though remote learning, two of whom have no online classes at all) and overwhelmed…but if I zoom out and look at the trajectory, my work is making a difference and the trajectory of my work is taking a good shape in the longer term.
I’ve stopped expecting myself to get anything done on announcement days (when lockdowns start, get extended, or end). My brain’s main job on those days is processing the changes. Plus maybe sending ridiculous memes to my friends and finding snacks to comfort eat.
Plan for change
When organising events these days I make sure we plan for both online and offline options. Any offline plans are held lightly, with free or inexpensive venues or good cancellation policies, so it’s not a major disruption to cancel the event. We can still go ahead and run the online version.
I have reduced the number of things that can be affected by a change of conditions e.g. we do our grocery shopping online with consistent days for click-and-collect or home delivery and I’ve signed up for an online yoga class. It helps to have things that don’t change when I need to stay home.
Once new measures have been announced, I set aside an hour to determine how this personally affects me and my family. I look at my diary, for the time that has officially been announced, and work out whether to keep, reschedule, or cancel plans. All phone and Zoom plans are automatically kept. All in-person plans I decide whether or not I still want to connect with whomever I was going to meet with, if yes, I reach out to them and ask if they are ok to connect via a phone call. If I don’t want to connect, I reach out and ask to find a new date on the other side of the current measures.
I pick two or three people I know live somewhere nearby who I want to hang out with, send them a screenshot of my map and their map – this is the Venn diagram of Friends Exercising Outdoors – and try find a time for a walk-and-talk. For all cancelled meetings or gatherings during restrictions I make a list of people to re-connect with so when COVID containment measures shift, they are the priority to find time with. It can be easy to lose momentum with making plans, so this list is a gift to Future Me, to reach out to people and not keep staying home.
I do a daily check-in via text message with one other person, where each person answers the same questions. Like a gratitude journal. You’re just bearing witness to each other, you’re not engaging in conversation or anything further.
I do park exercise with mates. Regular check ins with colleagues with non work chat. Online games. Sending treats to each other. Silly Zoom filters. Lots of in-person catch ups when we are allowed.
You are not alone, alone, reach out to others 💛
Get out into nature – it offers solace and comfort. Cultivate gratitude for what you have. Reach out to others.
Every emotion, every feeling, every… everything, is a beautiful teacher. When you’re sad, it’s teaching you how good happiness feels. When you’re angry, it’s teaching you to cherish peace. When you’re sluggish and unmotivated, it’s teaching you how good it feels to move and shake it out. Feel the hard stuff and use it to move you towards a better feeling.
Picks from survey respondents and the Commons Librarians:
- Lockdowns don’t get easier the more you do them: 6 tips to help you cope, The Conversation.
- The Lonely Century: A Call to Reconnect – read the book or watch the author Noreena Hertz on You Tube.
- Routes of safety – a helpful framework for understanding different responses to stress and trauma.
- Get inspired by ideas for a just future via the 2020 Reset Reading Group articles, podcasts and videos.
- Skill up for online meetings and keep learning while in lockdown.
- 10 Great Resources on Activist Wellbeing.
- View all the Covid-19 pandemic related resources on the Commons Library.
Thank you to folks who shared their tips! Have your say.