These uncertain times, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to see a spike in anxiety and depression. As such, it’s important to take actions to support self-care.
Personally, I’ve never tuned into the news more than I have in the past few weeks. Every morning upon waking, frequently throughout the day and before bed I check the latest news reports.
Every time there’s a spike in COVID-19 cases I feel more fearful about where we’ll be in three months or six months time. Certainly, it’s important to stay informed and to ensure we’re following the latest guidelines from reputable sources. However, this information overload can be scary.
What’s more, having to change your normal daily routine can cause undue anxiety and stress. Of course, this is before we even go into the pressure caused by the inability to work, loss of wages and the strain of rent or mortgage and bills.
Finding a ‘new normal’
While life has taken an unforseen turn due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it’s essential we all take measures to stay calm and well.
Humans are social beings and having to implement social distancing is completely out of the ordinary for us. Indeed, it can leave us feeling isolated, disconnected and dejected.
It’s important to remind yourself that these are temporary actions for the good of the greater community. Although we should try to stay 1.5 metres away from people, this doesn’t mean we can’t reach out to those around us via phone, text or video calls.
Experts suggest we find a ‘new normal’. This might be working from home, changing the ways in which you communicate with colleagues and clients, finding new ways of exercising that don’t involve group fitness and talking to friends over the phone, rather than in person.
Consider it the perfect opportunity to find new loves – be it cooking or perhaps gardening. However, it’s also important to maintain a routine. It might be a completely new routine compared to what you’re used to, but that’s okay.
Try to put a positive spin on things and look for alternative ways to stay healthy, busy and connected to friends and family.
Actions to support self-care
Whether you’re in self-quarantine or practicing social distancing (as we all should be), we must all think about maintaining our wellbeing. Here are a few ways to help stay well and look after your mental health.
Be practical — Supermarkets are not closing and as a nation we have plenty of food. Buy what you need but try not to panic. If you are on medicine, talk to your pharmacist or GP about the supply and whether you can have a repeat prescription. Even if further measures are put in place to ensure social distancing, supermarkets and pharmacies will remain open, as they have in other countries that have been harder hit.
Share your concerns — Don’t bottle up your feelings. Discuss your concerns and keep the lines of communication open with those around you. If your business has moved from an office-based operation to working remotely, why not arrange a weekly Skype chat with staff to stay connected?
Stick to your routine — While your daily routine is likely to change, having some sort of regimen is still important. We all need a reason to get up in the morning, so try to continue to do meaningful things that keep you busy and active.
Practice good hygiene — It’s important to regularly wash your hands throughout the day but good sleep hygiene is also important. Times of uncertainty can lead to disrupted or poor quality sleep, which can have a detrimental affect on health. Try to maintain your normal sleeping patterns and take action to promote good quality sleep.
Look after your own wellbeing — Maintaining physical activity and eating a healthy diet is important, particularly in times of stress. Try to plan well-balanced meals, drink plenty of water throughout the day and incorporate some exercise into your routine. We’re lucky we live in a sunny country, so set aside some time each day (even if it’s just 15-20 minutes) to enjoy the outdoors.
Stay up to date but not fixated — It’s important to keep abreast of the COVID-19 outbreak, but be sure to refer to reputable sources. Don’t believe everything you see or read on social media and try not to become fixated on watching or reading coverage. Tuning into the latest news a couple of times a day – for example morning and evening — is plenty.
Do the things you enjoy — Feelings of anxiety, loneliness and trepidation can make you cease doing the things you love. If your favourite hobby happens to be a group activity, consider trying a new hobby. There are lots of alternatives from online courses and home-based exercises to learning to meditate and expanding your cooking repertoire.
If you’re feeling uncertain or anxious as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, rest assured, you’re not alone. However, it’s important we all take steps to stay calm and maintain our own mental health and wellbeing.
After all, how can we help others if we let ourselves fall apart? It’s not about putting our heads in the sand or pretending there’s nothing wrong, but we must remain practical and all do our best.
- Australian Department of Health – http://www.health.gov.au
- World Health Organisation – http://www.who.int
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