Staying home and staying connected

A landscape photo of the ocean and sky. The ocean is very blue, with some waves visible and lots of choppy white foam at the front of the picture. The ocean stretches out to the horizon to be met by very blue sky with some white fluffy clouds.

Hi all. Well, it’s been over a month since I last posted. *sigh*. I wanted to post more thoughts, sooner, but got caught up in work stuff and when that happens, I don’t want to think enough for blogging on my days off. Motivation goes away. Then the whole thing with this virus started.

I have many, many thoughts, but these days it’s often easier to share them in short-form conversations, such as Twitter threads. You can follow me there if you like. (I’ve been very into fandom on there lately!)

This post was started two to three weeks ago, but then WordPress had a hissy fit when I tried to post it and refused to save. I’m just hoping this one works. It feels like it’s been three months since then, not three weeks. Supanova feels so far away too…

Supanova Melbourne is going to be my marker in all of this in terms of when things started. I attended with some caution, but on the second weekend of March, cases in Australia were still limited to international arrivals. I’m also privileged in that I’m not immunocompromised or otherwise at risk, so the risk felt minimal. A week later, Supanova Gold Coast only went ahead because our Prime Minister decided to time the first community restrictions to start on the Monday, not the Saturday. If Supanova GC had been first and Melbourne second, I wouldn’t have gone to it, because things changed so much so fast in that first week. It’s surreal.

How are we all going, people? Hope you’re as okay as possible, right now, physically and mentally. In Victoria, it’s week three of shutdown. (Australia, too, but the way this crisis has been managed so far, the states have had to take the lead and done everything slightly differently to each other, so I’m referencing my home state only.) No-one’s allowed out of the house unless it’s for one of four very specific reasons, with specifications in the fine print. We’ve been told to expect changes in some form for at least six months.

Councils have closed libraries and pools/ activity centres, initially until the start of April, but now indefinitely. University choirs, including my local one, LaTUCS, have paused or suspended activities. (Even this year’s national intervarsity choral festival has been postponed and won’t happen this year – a first!) My church has gone virtual, live-streaming pre-recorded services. Schools will be operating with online/ remote learning procedures and end-of-year exams have been postponed.

Despite the inevitability of the Victorian shutdown decision, its suddenness still took me by surprise. While I’m very pleased it happened – it gives me confidence that our premier and his government are on top of things as much as they can be – it’s still disconcerting.

My brain thrives on predictability and certainty. I was anxious during the week prior to the shutdown due to the uncertain circumstances. I had a meltdown after I went home on the last day of onsite school work actually, because it had built too much. It’s still unsettling that this is going to continue indefinitely and I don’t know when I’ll be able to be physically close to my friends, family and colleagues again.

I’m sure I’m not the only one struggling with feelings around this. In these times, we all need to be gentle with ourselves. We need to support those who work in essential services, like health care workers, cleaners & garbage collectors, posties, and supermarket (etc.) workers. Give them a smile, don’t be a dick to them. The current chaos isn’t their fault.

Honour your own feelings at this time. It’s scary, frustrating, tiring, sad. I’ve found acknowledging the feeling and brainstorming what could help is useful. As well as things like seeking out favourite activities, watching calming/ funny/ moving videos, snuggling with warm (and/or weighted) blankets, taking warm showers and listening to music. All the usual advice applies about trying to get enough sleep, food, physical activity, mental stimulation and social contact. Keyword there being “trying to”.

I’ve been creating daily schedules for myself using Google Calendar. They’re loose and flexible but provide my brain with the structure it needs. I schedule needed activities first, so I can reward myself with the wanted ones after. I also make sure to include reminders for breaks for food and movement.

One of the things I’ve organised are scheduled “virtual café” catchups with friends and family. The idea is we each grab a beverage of choice then phone or video call at a pre-determined time. I love having catchups with friends, and moving this online during this time seems like a great way to stay connected when every other way of socialising is restricted.

Another idea is to do something like what’s suggested by the Black Dog Institute in this article: a self-care plan. They have a template you can follow, it’s quite easy. Give it a go; we all need to think about taking care of ourselves in this time, especially if we’re supporting others.

Everyone needs to figure out how to do stay connected during these times. What works for you? (Please comment! I’d love to get some virtual conversations going!)

I’m going to aim for blogging once a week – I want to get into the habit again. Until next time, remember you can find me on Twitter, like I said at the start of this post.

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