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Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

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Lockdowns can be very challenging. Everyone will experience the situation differently, but whatever you feel is normal for you. Be kind to yourself and use self-care strategies that work for you to get through this time.

Tips for looking after our mental health wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale. It is understandable that during times such as this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

Whilst it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Manage your exposure to media coverage

Constantly being exposed to the media can increase feelings of fear and anxiety. Be mindful of where the information comes from and ensure you are accessing reliable and accurate information. We have provided some links below.

Follow a ‘calm yet cautious’ approach

Do your best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to positively manage the outbreak. Ensure you are following directives issued by the government, medical advice and observe good hygiene habits.

Show compassion and kindness to one another

In times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty it is important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other. Remind yourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity, and that COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate – it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity.

Actively manage your wellbeing

Wellbeing may be managed by maintaining routines where possible, connecting with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking support by contacting Lifeline or further professional support as required.

You, or someone you know may be directed to practice social distancing, self-isolation or go into a period of quarantine which may feel daunting and overwhelming and can contribute to feelings of helplessness and fear. In addition to the above guidelines we also encourage:

  • Connection – think of creative ways to stay connected with others including social media, email and phone.
  • Daily routine – create a routine that prioritises things you enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had enough time to in the past such as reading that book or watching that show.
  • Perspective – try to see this as an unusual period that might even have some benefits.
  • Be generous to others - giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing Is there a way to help others around you?
  • Stay connected with your values, don’t let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others. We are all in this situation together.
  • As above, limit your exposure to news and media. Perhaps choose specific times of the day when you will get updates, ensuring they are from reliable and accurate sources.

Research after the SARS pandemic in Hong Kong in 2008 showed the importance of maintaining connection through pandemics. It found that residents in Hong Kong experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

If you think someone is struggling with social isolation, it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care. Don’t underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person. You might want to:

  • Call them to check on their welfare
  • Send an email
  • Leave a note under their door
  • Send a care package.

We encourage people to get creative with how they interact. Here are some ways to stay connected while self-isolating:

  • Set up a virtual gratitude tree – where every member posts a message in a group chat or sends a text to other members to share something they are grateful for.
  • Find a buddy or group of people to set daily challenges with. These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, or a creative pursuit. Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated.
  • Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… kind of like Goggle Box but you're not sharing the couch!
  • If your local community has one, join its social media group! This will keep you up to date with what’s going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with those around you.

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and children may be particularly impacted by fear and anxiety. Here are some tips on how to ensure your children are supported:

  • Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety.
  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let children know it’s okay to share their own feelings.
  • Include your children in plans and activities around the house.
  • If you are concerned about your children’s wellbeing seek professional help.

It is extremely important to seek out help if you feel you need it. We want to remind everyone that Lifeline is here to offer support to you and listen. Lifeline are committed to ensuring our services continue as normal during this time.

  • Lifeline has a range of fact sheets and tool kits for additional information on how to manage during this time. 
  • Beyond Blue – trained counsellors are available 24/7 on the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service and webchat service. Online forums are also available to connect with others and share your experiences. Phone: 1800 512 348. Web: 
  • Black Dog Institute – resources for anxiety and stress during covid-19. 
  • Kids Helpline – for children that may need support 1800 55 1800Kids Helpline.
  • Emerging Minds - resources on how to support children during the covid-19 outbreak. 

For further or ongoing support please speak with your local GP or health professional to discuss additional mental health support options.

To keep up to date with latest information and news we recommend:

 

For Crisis Support contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 (24/7) or via text (12pm - midnight AEST) on 0477 13 11 14