What are you reading?
Sadly, with the local library being closed at the moment, I am having to re-read some of the books in my smallish collection. But there is something soothing about re-visiting some of my favourite books though, like catching up with an old friend. I am mid-way through Stephen King's The Stand at the moment, which I have read too many times to count. If anyone has a copy of Cormac McCarthy's The Road in Ararat willing to lend me, hit me up!
What are you watching?
I am using my time getting through my extensive to-watch list on Netflix and SBS on Demand has been great for some classic and foreign films. I have shifted my taste significantly this year to seek out more independent movies, which has provided some absolute hidden gems. A Ghost Story, The Florida Project and Midsommar were all brilliant. I love movies that make me think about the story or characters for days after watching.
What music are you listening to?
We have recently upgraded to a family Spotify account which has been a game-changer when it comes to access to unlimited music. My teenaged son is trying hard to get me into Radiohead which is slowly growing on me though I usually stick to my own playlist. My taste in music could only bedescribed as odd. Shuffle-play can feature Debussy one minute and Post Malone the next.
What are you cooking?
I am cooking way too much at the moment as I get into creative cooking modes. There is no way we needed the two cakes I baked yesterday but it was great fun. The kids get involved, we put on some music and we try to come up with new flavour combinations. They are learning a lot of skills in the kitchen. I was lucky to find a local business selling flour in bulk. My husband wants to try baking bread, but cooking with yeast is a bit intimidating.
How are you staying fit, both physically and mentally?
I am very grateful that we invested in a great spin bike late last year, as it has been well-used by all family members. I also love 15-minute lounge-room yoga sessions. Yoga mats are super cheap and loads of free routines are available online. I am definitely a yoga-novice and my technique is probably terrible, but it is really enjoyable.
Mentally, I turn to creating art when I am feeling bored, stressed or anxious. It helps to clear my head and I find I get lost in the process. This becomes quite like a meditation session for me, and time passes so quickly. Watercolours will always be my favourite medium though I have recently ventured into oil paint on small canvasses. As an art therapist, I am lucky to have access to loads of art supplies in my study!
What's the one thing keeping you sane?
Social media, to be honest. It is great to be able to laugh with family and friends online to let off some steam and de-stress. It has made me realise though how important it is to keep an eye on reading and sharing misinformation on social media and to keep things in perspective.
What do you miss doing most?
I miss being able to go on spontaneous road trips with my family. Just being able to pack up the kids and dog, grab some yummy food on the way and ending up in a random place we haven't been before was great. I believe that these times created the best memories.
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What is the first thing you hope to do when restrictions are eased?
I believe, and hope, that when restrictions are eased that a new appreciation for our way of life is seen. I would also love to see greater levels of respect for the underappreciated work that so many people do in our society to keep the wheels turning. These include our wonderful nurses, cleaners, truck and delivery drivers, teachers, carers, farmers, childcare and aged care workers, supermarket staff and food workers to name but a few.
Are you working from home? If so how's that going, if not what's work like for you now?
I am working from home on a limited basis using tools like Zoom or Skype. I am still getting used to counselling remotely, as I find it challenging when compared to face-to-face. It has allowed me to offer my services to a wider audience though, which is great. I have transitioned some of my art therapy clients to home-visits which has been an amazing experience. I feel privileged that they have opened up their personal spaces to allow me to join with them in expressing their thoughts and feelings during this time through art.
What's your advice for others to cope with the crisis?
As a counsellor, the best advice that I can give anyone in coping with this crisis is to be aware of how your mental health is tracking. Don't let things go if you are feeling really down, angry or anxious, as these feelings, when left unresolved, can lead to long-term problems. There are loads of recourses out there to help. You just have to be brave enough to ask.
- Karen Ceccon is a counsellor at Ararat Wellness (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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