COVID19 impact on mental health in Australia is a major concern. Many adults and children are facing challenges that can be overwhelming, stressful, and cause strong emotions. Public health actions, such as physical distancing, are essential to decrease the spread of Coronavirus, but they can make us feel lonely and isolated and can increase stress and anxiety. Just as it is important to look after physical health during the COVID19 pandemic, it’s also important to keep on top of how you are feeling.
The following can be caused by stress:
- Changes in appetite, aspirations, energy, and interests
- Insomnia and sleep difficulties
- Trouble focusing and making decisions
- Deteriorating chronic health difficulties
- Deteriorating mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
- Feelings of fear, sadness, numbness, anger, concern or frustration
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, stomach issues, body pains, and skin rashes
The effects of the COVID19 pandemic, social distancing and isolating can make us feel stressed, anxious and concerned. We’ll look at why mental health during COVID19 is important, how to improve your mental health during lockdown, and some tips to help you get through this worldwide crisis.
Why is mental health during the pandemic important?
Mental health during COVID19 is important because it can impact every facet of your life. This includes your marriage, your job, your relationship with your family, and your overall well-being. When you’re experiencing mental health problems, it may feel impossible to complete even straightforward work projects or care for children.
Your physical health can also be heavily impacted by your mental health. For example, chronic anxiety and stress can have an adverse impact on your heart, especially if you already have a sickness like high blood pressure.
Management of mental health during the crises of COVID19
To take care of your wellbeing and mental health during COVID19, there are things you can do.
- Find a healthy balance in relation to media coverage
This includes those on social media. Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can intensify feelings of anxiety. While it’s vital to stay educated, you may find it valuable to restrict your media intake if it is distressing you or your family.
Instead, schedule time to watch something fun. Making sure you don’t endure information excess is the vital thing. Give your mind a break and let it have a chance to “have fun” through more elevating entertainment.
- Take care of yourself physically
Physical and mental health are closely entwined. You should protect your physical health to help also protect your mental health during lockdown. This includes:
- Eating healthy meals
- Exercising frequently
- Taking medication as prescribed
- Avoiding junk food
- Avoiding excessive alcohol use
- Getting enough sleep
- Talk to other people
At times of stress, we work better with companionship and support.
Try to stay in touch with your family and friends by:
- Video call
- Chats with neighbours while keeping 1.5m apart
- Social media
You may find it healing to reconnect with old friends or relatives you may have lost touch with through the years.
- Talk to your children
It is vital to involve our family and children in our plans for good health. Without triggering fear, we need be attentive to and ask children what they have heard about the pandemic and support them.
We need to diminish the negative effect it has on our children and clarify the facts to them. Chat about the news with them but try and prevent over-exposure to reporting of the virus.
Be as honest as possible. Let’s not evade the ‘scary subject’ but interact in a way that is suitable for them.
- Connect with your community or faith-based groups
Try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail while lockdown procedures are in place.
- Set up routine and structure
We’re used to having routines to pilot our days and give us a sense of accomplishment. When so much seems out of our control, creating some structure in our days will help to offer constancy and a ‘new normal’.
For families adapting to home learning, this is especially challenging. Try to establish new routines as a family to help detach ‘work and school time’ from ‘family time’.
Think about the parts of your normal routine you value the most and find ways to make these part of your day – such as finding an online gym class or having lunch with co-workers via video chat.
- Take work breaks
Take time just for you and be nice to yourself, even if it just a few minutes to take some deep breaths and step outside into the fresh air.
Plan your breaks and use them to do something that makes you feel peaceful and content.
- Access good quality information
Anxiety can be driven by speculation and rumour. It’s vital to get correct information from trustworthy sources. This will help you feel more in control and maintain perspective.
Follow hygiene guidance such as washing your hands more often than normal, for 20 seconds with soap and hot water. You should do this whenever you get home or into work, blow your nose, sneeze, or cough, eat, or manage food. If you can’t wash your hands immediately, use hand sanitizer and then wash them at the next opportunity.
You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them fast; and stay at home if you are feeling ill.
- Try to maintain perspective
While it is humane for people to be worried about the COVID19 pandemic, try to remember that medical, scientific, and public health experts around the world are working hard to control the virus, and treat those impacted.
- Make a personal financial plan
If the outbreak has pushed your expenses, condensed your income, or left you uncertain about your job outlooks, this insecurity can be damaging to your mental health during the pandemic.
Plan your finances this winter, including making sure you are getting any benefits you are eligible for and getting help with any debt worries you may have. With different restrictions in place, using a budget tool to recreate your household budget for being at home could be valuable. Keep in mind that you are probably saving money by not spending on things you usually would like commuting and socialising. When looking at your budget, factor that in. Trying to stay in a secure financial or debt position is very protective to our wellbeing.
- Try to foresee distress
As we read news about the pandemic, it is ok to feel unsafe and overwhelmed, particularly if you have experienced trauma or mental health issues in the past, or if you are shielding, have a long-term physical condition or fall into one of the other groups that makes you more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID19.
It’s vital to recognise these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health during COVID19. We should also be aware of and prevent developing behaviours that may not be beneficial in the long term, like drinking, smoking, and overeating.
Try and assure people you know who may be concerned and check in with people who you know are living alone.
- Be sure to do what you enjoy
The anxiety of the unknown sometimes makes it easy to forget the things you love to do. Make a list and plan to partake in as many as possible.
Granted, you may need to adapt based on present guidelines. Remember that there are often innovative ways to still partake in the things you love.
- Practice meditation
Meditation relaxes both your body and mind. All you need is a comfy position, a quiet location, and an open mind. Studies show that meditation:
- Gives you resources to handle stress
- Nurtures creativity
- Allows you to noticeably concentrate on the present
- Can help ease stress
- Decreases negative emotions or attitudes
- Helps you be more patient
- Seek support
It’s common to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the pandemic. We encourage people who have experienced mental health problems in the past to:
- Trigger your support network
- Recognise feelings of distress
- Seek professional support early if you’re having problems
For those already handling a mental health problem, continue with your treatment plan and observe for any new symptoms.
There are numerous qualified mental health counsellors available to help you. Many provide virtual appointments if their offices are closed during Coronavirus.
Remember that not everyone responds to stress in the same way, which is why it will help to make a list of things you’d like to talk to the counsellor about. This includes concerns about yourself or others.
Resources & Social Support Services
Emergency Relief – Service delivered by community organisations to help people address immediate basic needs in times of crisis.
Tenants’ Union Renters’ Guide to COVID19 (1800 251 101) – Developed to provide legal information about situations that may arise as a result of the COVID19 pandemic.
NSW Government Businesses & Employers Resources – Information and resources for businesses about protecting staff and customers from COVID19, financial relief and personalised support.
- There are many means to get help if you are struggling to handle. While everyone has periods of depression or anxiety, when these intensify to the point that it is hard to perform in day-to-day life, it is time to get help from a qualified mental health counsellor.
- People may have thoughts of suicide during times of great stress. Suicide is avoidable and help is available. More can be found here about the risk of suicide, signs to watch for, and how to respond if you observe these signs in yourself or a friend or a loved one.
There’s help if you need it:
Call 000 in an emergency
- Lifeline (131 144) – For support if you are experiencing a personal crisis or have suicidal thoughts.
- Beyond Blue Mental Wellbeing Support Service (1800 512 348) – Offering information, advice and strategies to help you handle your wellbeing and mental health during COVID19.
- Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS National) (131 450) – For people who do not speak English and for agencies and companies that need to engage with their non-English speaking clients.
- Kids Helpline (1800 551 800) – Offers a free, private and confidential phone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25.
- Suicide Call Back Service (1300 659 467) – For instant, professional 24/7 telephone and online counselling to people who are impacted by suicide.
While you may be experiencing intensified levels of anxiety and stress, following these tips can help decrease these feelings, and support your mental health during lockdown.
Anytime Offices is here for you
We understand the importance of keeping our community safe from Coronavirus. We want you to know that we are protecting the health of our clients and staff.
We ask that you do your part – if you have any flu-like or pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, chills, or shortness of breath, we ask that you do not enter our centres.
We believe it is vital to share facts, not fear when it comes to Coronavirus, and together, we will get through this challenging time.