By Mike Sheedy, Anglicare’s Head of Mental Health
Take 10 minutes every day to reflect on all that’s good in your life and to appreciate the small things, even something as simple as being able to take your dog for a walk at the park or beach.
2. Keep perspective
Try to see this time as unique and different and possibly even beneficial, even if it’s something you didn’t necessarily choose.
3. Think of yourself as capable of worthwhile things
Without thinking this way, it’s easy to fall into those ‘easy’ habits – like eating whatever is convenient rather than what’s nourishing. By comparison, once we slip into the mindset of thinking of ourselves as capable, habits like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly and even bible reading and praying to God suddenly seem like they’re worth prioritising and taking the time to make happen.
4. Maintain routines
Maintain routines around sleep, exercise, work and device time. Avoid over exposure to news and media, perhaps by choosing specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they are from reputable and reliable sources. Spend time cooking healthy meals and learning new recipes rather than over-relying on home delivered food, and monitor your alcohol intake.
5. Take up a new interest
Learn something new, or watch or read something uplifting.
6. Be prepared
It’s when we are unprepared and unorganised that we tend to make less healthy choices. Making the effort to plan ahead and organise things will make maintaining your healthy lockdown habits easier to do even as life returns to pre-COVID routines. For instance, weekly meal planning and food shopping in advance means you’re much more likely to cook a healthy dinner from scratch each night.
7. Stay connected
Show compassion and kindness to one another. Giving to others in times of need not only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too.
Reach out to friends via telephone or online. 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!
You could also leave a note for your neighbours in their letter box or under their door. Or, 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 someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.
Stay connected to God. The bible tells us to "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." (1 Peter 5:7).
8. Support young children
Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Notice how they are acting and feeling to see if you can spot any significant changes. Include your children in plans and activities around the house.
Support your kids to stay connected with their peers, but 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 about COVID-related things or situations that are still worrying them. Asking questions can help you understand what they’re really dealing with rather than making assumptions.
You could ask:
- “What are you most worried about if (something) happens?”
- “What would be the hardest thing about (a particular worry) for you?”
If you’re concerned, ask other people who are close to your children like grandparents or
teachers if they’ve noticed any changes. If you don’t see an improvement in four weeks, or if you’re concerned, seek professional help (or earlier if needed).
9. Listen to teenage kids and young adults
Teenagers and young adults can lose personal ‘agency’ at this time. Your dynamic with them may change – they might sack you as their ‘manager’ but be open to re-hiring you as their ‘consultant’ (source: Erin Colacino).
Try to listen to them first rather than being too prescriptive with immediate solutions. Ask: "What would be the best way to support you right now?”
Avoid the temptation to ‘hibernate’ or ‘self-isolate’. Instead, be proactive in maintaining connections with others, and check in with people.
11. Check out online mental health resources
Beyond Blue and Reach Out (for youth) can provide mental health resources and assistance.
Anglicare also has further resources addressing the topics of worry and anxiety, being overwhelmed, settling your mind and being kind to yourself. They've also developed a handy tip sheet containing eight things you might be thinking about coronavirus:
12. If you’re worried:
Notice the worry (ask yourself “what am I worrying about?”). If it is a mild worry, give your emotion a one or two word label (like ‘Saxysquiff’), then move on. If it is a more serious worry, consider reappraising your situation. Maybe you can downgrade the worry if on reflection the situation is not as threatening as you first thought.
You can also normalise the worry, by acknowledging that it’s usual for someone in my situation to feel worried. For example, it can be normal to feel off-balance in the current circumstances. Give
yourself permission to feel however you’re feeling right now. Practicing mindfulness may help you to do this.
It is also important in many instances of worry to reduce the expectations you have put on yourself. If you can’t do anything about the situation, can you let it go? If you can do something about the situation, put one foot in front of the other either now or later.
13. Supporting overseas friends and family
Maintain regular contact with overseas friends and family, taking time to talk about everyday things and share details about your life, and provide practical help where you can, even from afar. The internet can help you organise an overseas grocery shop delivery or a gift.
If you’re concerned about a friend or family member and feel like they’d benefit from seeking professional support, after talking to them about it, you could even research their local supports.
Make sure you look after yourself, too; when you’re struggling, it’s harder to be as helpful to others.
14. If you or a family member need extra support
- Talk to your GP via telehealth (mental health plan)
- For kids, teens and young adults - contact headspace, Reach Out or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- In crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
- Risk of immediate harm – call 000