Coping in lockdown: Sydney expat edition

If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you might have read our article on coping with pandemic burnout (here). As lockdowns have continued to be part of life and are more on again/off again than Big and Carrie, we thought it might be time to update the coping mechanisms. Expats in particular are suffering with lockdown isolation. The loneliness compounds with homesickness and can leave expats feeling frustrated and depressed.





The not knowing when it will end is professed to be the worst part. Universally. Not knowing how long this will last leads to a special kind of fatigue, because it feels like it could last forever. So, when everyone has run out of enthusiasm, positivity, and projects, how can we cope?


As the old saying goes, “the devil makes work for idle hands”. Sitting around at home, doom scrolling and thinking about how lonely we are only tends to make things worse. But when it’s pissing rain, and everything is shut what else are we meant to do?


Get creative:

This website shows you what is within 5km, 10km etc of your home address. Currently in Sydney we’re only allowed out within 5km, and only for exercise. But we’ve found some interesting ways to “work out” that are perfectly legal, but not just another walk. Driving ranges, Go-Karting, Kayaking and Paddle-Boarding all count as exercise. So, it’s worth seeing what, if anything is available in your area to do, besides walking.






Take-Out:

During the first set of lockdowns businesses were really only set up to do the bare minimum. You could get a pizza delivered but not much else. As lockdowns have continued to pop up, businesses have also gotten creative.


Savannah Estate and Archie Rose (among others) are running online tastings. These are a lot of fun, and you can even organise a private one with a group of friends. Grazey Gal based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney does fantastic grazing platters, that even include a wee portable fire to make smores. We got a platter to have at a wine tasting, got dressed up and made a night of it. It broke up the week and was a great chance to blow off some steam with our friends.




Sake, Bart Jr and a lot of other “fancy” restaurants that never usually do take-out options are now offering an “at home dining experience”. Different to the usual pizza, and a little bit fancy, it can be a wonderful way to treat yourself. Especially as we’re in week 19380428 of lockdown.


Community:

The Irish community is truly exceptional, and we look out for each other over here. A County Down Under has been doing excellent work organising virtual raves, breathwork classes and now yoga to keep people together. And they’re not just for Irish people, anyone can join. Even if that’s not your thing, reaching out to your friends and organising a quiz, or a games night can do wonders for our mental health. It gives us something to look forward too, and planning it occupies some brain space that might otherwise be dedicated to monitoring case numbers/vaccine rollouts and other things we can’t control.





Get Outside:

Even if you’re only allowed out for 1hr a day, getting outside everyday is so important to our mental health. I like to bribe myself with nice coffee from down the road. Every morning I get showered and dressed, to go get my coffee. It’s a small thing, but it gives me a lift every morning.




I also try to get out for a “proper” walk once a day. If lunchtime isn’t looking likely, or I just can’t be bothered, I do 10 minutes around the block instead of a “proper” 30–60-minute walk. 5 minutes is better than nothing. Stretching on your balcony in the fresh air for 10 minutes is better than not moving from the screen all day. Walking just to get a coffee is better than not walking at all. If motivation is low, try to do something small. And bribing yourself with treats like a small child is totally OK.


One day at a time:

The enormity of not seeing our families or being able to get home is heart-breaking. The cancelled weddings, the missed funerals, and the children we haven’t met yet only adds to the heartbreak. Not knowing when that will be feasible increases that frustration. It’s exhausting to carry it every day. So, it’s OK to put it down. It’s OK to just not think about it. It’s OK to not think about being at home or look at pictures of your last trip. It’s also OK to be sad about it.




Currently, we only plan 1-2 weeks at a time. We just don’t plan past that because anything can happen, and the rules are constantly changing. It’s also too upsetting to hope for a trip home and have it cancelled. Again.


Ask yourself, what can I do to make this week nicer for myself?


Some suggestions:

· Get up for sunrise and get a nice coffee/breakfast. Cupan Caife do sunrise high tea boxes, just saying!

· Home Spa Day

· Tasting/Games Night with friends

· At home pub crawl (each room is a different bar, StephMyLife has a highlight about this)

· Catch a sunset in nature


If you are really struggling reaching out to a professional can be the best step to take. The Flawed Journey provides a FREE 20 minute consultation which can help in finding the best care for you.


For 24/7 and emergency resources please click here

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