Looking after your mental health during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and new social distancing measures have resulted in more Australians staying indoors and limiting their normal daily routine. This is not an easy situation to manage, making it more important than ever to look after your mental health.
We have spoken to our counsellors and support workers and have compiled a comprehensive list of top tips to manage the self-isolation and social distancing guidelines, to keep yourself and the person you care for, stay calm and safe.
Self-care and coping strategies
- Keep up with your own coping strategies as a carer by taking time for yourself. This can be as simple as having a shower, take a few deep breaths, light a candle or have a cup of tea.
- Limit the amount of COVID-19 news you are watching so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Twice a day for 10 minutes is healthy. Anything over that may be distressing.
- Stay grounded by tuning in to your 5 senses a couple times a day: what things can you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? This is a great way to ground yourself and be mindful of the little things that are happening around you, despite the uncertainty.
- Try a creative hobby, such as drawing, journaling, writing, cooking, singing or dancing.
- Schedule in some mindfulness every day, such as breathing exercises or download a mediation app or podcast.
- If you have a pet, take the time to interact with it. Stroke, cuddle, talk and play with your pet.
- Contact your GP for a metal health care plan if your anxiety is heightened. Due to COVID-19 regulations for health practitioners, please call your GP first to make an appointment.
- Reach out to friends and family over the phone or try video calling. Having a friendly voice can calm you down and help shift perspective. Please reach out, you are not a burden.
- Social Media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends.
- Ask a friend to be a pen pal over email.
Maintain a strict routine when in self-isolation
- When in self-isolation, keep to your normal routine every day. This includes engaging in your regular self-care routines such as waking up at your normal time, showering, getting dressed for the day and maintaining as much normality as you can.
- Maintain physical activity by finding alternative exercise you can do at home. There are lots of great exercise videos online, try a YouTube tutorial.
- Ensure that you, and the person you care for, get exposed to plenty of day light to help with your sleep/wake cycle. Open the curtains and turn the lights off during the day.
- Ensure you get plenty of sleep. Go to bed and rise at the same time. Try not to oversleep and aim for 7 to 9 hours a night.
- Maintain a healthy and balanced diet and don’t forget to keep hydrated.
- If you can, alternate the rooms you spend time in. For example, create a routine where you spend an hour in your lounge room, then an hour outside in the garden, then hour having some morning tea and reading a book at the kitchen table etc.
Focus on goodness and kindness
- Look for the helpers, the healers, the compassion and the good in the world. Focus on the positive things and encourage your loved ones to focus on this too. There is lots of fear and uncertainty but there is also lots of kindness being shown to our fellow human beings.
- Think of a way you can engage in random acts of kindness. This will not only lift and encourage someone else but will also help with your own sense of purpose and self-worth at this time. A phone call, text or email to a friend you haven’t see for a while, hand making a special gift that you can give someone once things have settled down etc.
- Try to engage in something that makes you laugh – a funny movie or Youtube video, tell silly jokes etc. Humour is an important coping strategy and a good belly laugh does wonders for our sense of wellness.
If you need help..
HelpingMinds is providing free emotional support services to anyone in Western Australia and Northern Territory who feels overwhelmed by the current COVID-19 situation or their personal circumstances.
Through HelpingMinds you can access 3x free phone or video counselling sessions with a mental health professional, without the need for a GP referral.
You can make an appointment between 8.30am – 4.30pm, Mon to Fri. Appointments for phone and video counselling are available between 7am and 7pm. Call HelpingMinds on 1800 811 747.
Online Forums SANE forums for Carers (staffed 24/7 by mental health professionals)
Helplines Lifeline: 13 11 14 (24/7 crisis support)
BeyondBlue: 1300 224 636 (24/7 support)
Headspace: 1800 650 890 (youth support, 9am – 1am)
Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 (24/7 kids support)
1800 Respect: 1800 737 732 (24/7 domestic violence support)
MensLine: 1300 78 99 78 (24/7 mental health support for men)
Qlife: 1800 184 527 (support for LGBTQI+ Australians, 3pm – 12am)
SANE Help Centre: 1800 187 263 (anyone 10am – 10pm, Monday – Friday)