As measures to restrict movement as part of efforts to reduce the infections of COVID-19, many of us are faced with making epic and not always welcome changes to our daily lives.
We have faced some new realities of curfews, restricted travel, working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling, and the lack of physical contact with other family members, friends and colleagues may be aspects we won't ever get used to. Anyone missing hugs?
Adapting to aspects like the reduction of human physical connection, the distance of family members, economic factors, home-schooling, and the interruption to the basic essentials in life on so many levels is challenging for us all. If you add in managing any fear of contracting the virus, or the societal impact of the situation, it is far from normal. There are many in our community already vulnerable that are now impacted even more so, and there are those who will become vulnerable as a result of our world situation. Mental Health is paramount even more than ever.
There are scaffolding and tips we have researched you might find useful. These are provided by the World Health Organisation, the organizers of World Mental Health Day.
- Keep informed. Listen to advice and recommendations from your national and local authorities. Follow trusted news channels, such as local and national TV and radio, and keep up-to-date with the latest news from @WHO on social media.
- Have a routine. Keep up with daily routines as far as possible, or make new ones.
- Get up and go to bed at similar times every day.
- Keep up with personal hygiene.
- Eat healthy meals at regular times.
- Exercise regularly.
- Allocate time for working and time for resting.
- Make time for doing the things you enjoy.
- Minimize newsfeeds. Try to reduce how much you watch, read or listen to news that makes you feel anxious or distressed. Seek the latest information at specific times of the day, once or twice a day if needed.
- Social contact is important. If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.
- Alcohol and drug use. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink or don't drink alcohol at all. Don't start drinking alcohol if you have not drunk alcohol before. Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with fear, anxiety, boredom and social isolation.
- There is no evidence of any protective effect of drinking alcohol for viral or other infections. In fact, the opposite is true as the harmful use of alcohol is associated with increased risk of infections and worse treatment outcomes.
- And be aware that alcohol and drug use may prevent you from taking sufficient precautions to protect yourself again infection, such as compliance with hand hygiene.
- Screen time. Be aware of how much time you spend in front of a screen every day. Make sure that you take regular breaks from on-screen activities.
- Video games. While video games can be a way to relax, it can be tempting to spend much more time on them than usual when at home for long periods. Be sure to keep the right balance with off-line activities in your daily routine.
- Social media. Use your social media accounts to promote positive and hopeful stories. Correct misinformation wherever you see it.
- Help others. If you are able to, offer support to people in your community who may need it, such as helping them with food shopping.
- Support health workers. Take opportunities online or through your community to thank your country's health-care workers and all those working to respond to COVID-19.
Fear is a normal reaction in situations of uncertainty. But sometimes fear is expressed in ways which are hurtful to other people. Remember:
- Be kind. Don't discriminate against people because of your fears of the spread of COVID-19.
- Don't discriminate against people who you think may have coronavirus.
- Don't discriminate against health workers. Health workers deserve our respect and gratitude.
- COVID-19 has affected people from many countries. Don't attribute it to any specific group.
Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide is a stress management guide for coping with adversity. The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques. The guide can be used alone or with the accompanying audio exercises.
Informed by evidence and extensive field testing, the guide is for anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances. You can get your copy attached to this article.
Black Dog Institute https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/resources-support/
World Mental Health Day https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-mental-health-day/world-mental-health-day-2020
Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
You can also text 0477 13 11 14 from 12 pm to midnight for support.