How are you coping in your life with everything that comes with COVID-19 isolation?

I thought I would share with everyone how COVID-19 has affected me personally and how I am getting through this period. My key message to anyone is to stay positive and utilise this time to re-charge and re-set.

In the early days of COVID-19 isolation, it was difficult for me to maintain a strong and positive mental mindset during these times.

Whilst isolation laws are absolutely necessary in order to flatten the curve of this virus and to keep as many of us in good health as possible, it is a double edged sword because mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression can creep into our lives when confined to an isolation environment.

Isolation unfortunately can have a profound effect on a person’s mental health. We as humans thrive on getting out of the confines of our four walls that we reside in to be out in the great outdoors and to socialise with our family and friends.  

It can be very easy to slip into negative self-talk and thinking of all the worst case scenarios that can happen as a result of not being able to earn an income or being able to socialise face-to-face. Such negative thoughts can bring on anxiety and depression which can take us to dark places in our minds. 

Like many people and businesses in March 2020, my livelihood came to an immediate halt overnight as a result of COVID-19 isolations and travel restrictions in Australia. 

As we know all too well, financial hardship can place stress on a person, their relationships and a family but it’s really important to rise above this and really think about what is important in our lives. 

Anxiety and depression left untreated can be extremely debilitating so seeking professional assistance is very important. My moto is, “Health before Wealth”.

So how am I and my family coping?

I can’t help but feel that I have an advantage coping during these challenging times of COVID-19 for my wife and I have been through similar circumstances previously minus the virus.

Since 2013, sustaining and living with a brain injury and having gone through mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression have allowed me to apply resilience strategies in order to live life with this permanent disability and mental health challenges. 

I am applying the same strategies during these times living under the COVID-19 restrictions and can say I’m the better for it.

In addition to this, I have learnt through the years between 2013 – 2017 that stress as a result of financial hardship can be reduced simply by having a different mindset. This for me meant that the health, mental health and wellbeing for myself and my family were more important than material objects such as houses, cars etc (wealth). 

At first it was difficult to change my mindset for all I was focused on was how hard we had worked to accumulate these assets over a long period of time however when you have sustained a permanent disability such as an Acquired Brain Injury and are challenged by anxiety and depression, assets quickly transform to being just “OBJECTS”. They mean very little when your health is compromised.

The day I came to terms that health was more important than wealth was when life changed for the better. We downsized by selling everything and focused on our health and living life. I can tell you that when we did this, our lives became less complicated, less stressful and wondered why it took a health impact to make us realise that life doesn’t have to be so stressful or such a struggle.

At the end of the day, what are all the assets worth if your health is compromised or taken permanently?

What am I doing during the COVID-19 Isolation Period to stay well?

  • Being Present

I’m really enjoying the time at home with my wife and family for it has allowed us to all pull back all the layers of life and reconnect. By this I mean we are having more meaningful conversations, playing board games and the list goes on.

*Being present and reconnecting with family validates health over assets.

  • Virtual Socialising 

Although we are adhering to isolation laws, it hasn’t prevented us from socialising via phone, social media and video calls with family and friends. It’s been quite interesting to listen to how each individual and families are coping during these times, sharing experiences, ideas and strategies.

*It’s very important for your mental health whilst in isolation to stay socially connected.

  • Home Maintenance and Renovations 

This period has also provided me with the time to get all the odd jobs done around the house that needed doing as well as some small and easy renovation jobs. Nothing too big or too costly, just small and simple renovations.   

*Completing tasks that are meaningful and provide a feeling of personal achievement supports true value in your life.

  • Gardening

I do love getting out into my garden and pottering around so all of this down-time has allowed me to enjoy one of my hobbies which is gardening. I find gardening provides a neutral environment for my mind allowing me to apply mindfulness, using all of my 6 senses throughout the garden. It’s extremely good for my mental health and wellbeing. 

*Using all our senses – touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste and proprioception is part of being mindful of everything we do.

  • Cooking

The opportunity to explore our inner “MasterChef” has been evident in our household with some great meals and bake-offs during this period. It’s been another time that brings family together to enjoy good food and share conversation. 

*Cooking as a family and enjoying good healthy food around the dinner table helps reconnect family and family core values.

  • Working from Home

It’s was important for me to continue to progress forward with my passion which is lived experience speaking. Whilst the current isolation laws and travel restrictions have prevented my lived experience talks in a face-to-face capacity at workplaces, it has allowed me to diversify and provide sessions online. 

* Working from home or not, it’s a time that can be utilised to diversify and/or self-develop yourself via online courses etc. Be business or job-ready for when restrictions are lifted.    

On a final note…

During this time, whilst it’s important to be kind to others it’s very important to be kind to yourself

Take time out to breath, reflect and recalculate your journey going forward. The path you take may be difficult, it may take longer and it may not be what you had planned however be rest assured that whilst objects or assets may be lost during these pressing times, your health should always be at the forefront.

Stay safe and stay well,

Michael Weston

coronavirus, covid-19, isolation, mental health, michael weston, safety speaker
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