Most people will feel some distress during a crisis like this—this is natural. It is likely people will experience a range of emotions, thoughts and behaviours over time.
Everyone can take some action to protect and maintain emotional and physical wellbeing. Acting early to support our own mental health and wellbeing or seek support from others reduces the likelihood of ongoing mental or physical health issues.
10 tips for looking after your mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic
1. Make time for you
There are six different areas (or building blocks) of mental wellbeing. Each building block has a different focus and helps you respond to the range of mental tasks you face every day, in a unique and powerful way.
Visit our Dear Mind website for simple ways you can improve your mental wellbeing.
- Get healthy – be active, eat well and get enough sleep
- Keep learning – challenge your mind and seek out new things
- Show kindness – give back, show gratitude and bring joy to others’ lives
- Connect more – develop relationships, stay connected and care for each other
- Take notice – be mindful. Stay in the moment. Experience the world around you.
- Embrace nature – step outside, connect with the natural world and take care of the planet, even if you are limited to your own yard or balcony, or a walk around the block.
2. Keep perspective
Remember that crises swamp the headlines because they don’t happen often and are out of the ordinary – this is what makes them newsworthy.
During the rare times when a crisis occurs, everyone has a role to play in achieving the best possible outcomes. Consider what is within your control – and what’s not in your control – and focus on what you can do to contribute in a positive way to those around you.
3. Stay connected
It’s important to stay connected to family, friends and colleagues. They are your support network and can help you through a crisis.
Social connection and interaction are very important for maintaining our mental wellbeing. Communication channels, such as text, email, video calls and chat can be very helpful in staying connected.
Remember to also check in on other people, especially those who are living alone or may be more vulnerable to health issues. Checking in with someone can help reduce feelings of isolation and help us feel connected and supported
4. Keep a routine and set daily goals
It’s likely, with some of the recent changes, that your normal daily routines have also changed. Routines are an important part of restoring a sense of purpose and normality to daily life.
- As much as possible, try to keep a routine going. For example, wake up at the same time each day, and eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at set times where possible
- Try to incorporate normal activities such as exercise, walking the dog and reading a book
- Schedule some things to look forward to into your day, such as spending time with your kids, catching up on your favourite TV show and connecting with friends
5. Switch off
It might feel like you’re always watching, hearing or talking about the crisis. Turning off the news on the TV, radio or online, and taking a break from social media, can help clear your head and give you space to think about nicer things.
Set news limits
News is available everywhere, which means it can be hard to switch off. If you feel that you’re preoccupied by the news, consider setting yourself reasonable limits. You could:
- Start your day by reading a book or going for a walk, rather than checking the news or your social media feed
- Avoid checking the news before going to bed, especially on your phone or TV
- Set a limit on how many times you check the news each day, and how long you spend reading about the issue
- Turn off notifications or download an app that helps you limit social media use.
It’s understandable that conversations often revolve around current events, but it’s ok to not want to talk about it all the time. Just make sure you’re not bottling up your feelings or concerns – and seek support when you need it.
Read good news stories, too
Alarming headlines are often front and centre when there’s a crisis, but there’s still a lot of good happening all around us. If you’re checking for updates, try to read a good news story as well. Positive news doesn’t diminish a crisis, but it can help give us a sense of balance and support our mental wellbeing.
6. Look after your physical wellbeing
Taking good care of your body is one of the most important things you can do to improve your mental wellbeing.
Try to eat regularly and, where you can, eat a well-balanced nutritious diet. Drink plenty of water. For more healthy eating tips and recipes visit Healthier. Happier.
Find a way to get physically active. Visit Healthier. Happier. for home workouts and ideas to help you get active at home.
Get plenty of sleep. Sleep affects your mood and ability to concentrate and can lead to anxiety and depression. If you can, go to bed around the same time each night and get up around the same time each morning. Don’t worry if you’re finding it hard to nod off at first – sleep is often disrupted after a big change or event. Your sleep will return to normal with time.
7. Take some time out for things you enjoy
Even though times are difficult, you should take breaks and do something you enjoy. Taking time for you is always allowed and is really important for your mental wellbeing.
We are all different, so everyone will enjoy ‘me time’ differently. Here are some ideas:
- Do nothing at all, or do something that you enjoy
- Read a book
- Watch a movie or documentary on TV
- Listen to a podcast
- Meditate or learn to meditate
- Chat with your family or friends about something totally unrelated
- Play a board game or do a puzzle
- Do some exercise
- Cook something new
- Take up a new at-home hobby
- Study or research something new
- Have a nap
- Take a nice long bath
- Do some stretching or yoga
- Do something creative
- Make the space you live in more attractive, calmer and nicer to be in—declutter, re-arrange, decorate
If you need more ideas, visit the Dear Mind website for more than 100 ideas on activities to improve your mental wellbeing.
8. Limit your consumption of alcohol and other drugs
If you’ve noticed you’re drinking or using other drugs more than normal, or you’re using them to manage how you’re feeling, you can get anonymous support 24/7 from ADIS online or call 1800 177 833. Additional information is available from the QMHC Alcohol and other drugs and COVID-19 fact sheet.
9. Talk to someone when you feel ready
Maybe you don’t want to talk straight away about everything that’s happening. Maybe all you want to do is talk about it! The most important thing is not to bottle up how you’re feeling.
There’s no right or wrong way to talk about what’s going on for you. When you feel ready, find someone to talk with about what’s happened to you, how you feel about it, and any hopes or worries you have. It might come up naturally in conversation, or you might need to bring it up yourself.
10. Seek support when you need it
If you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, worried, upset, angry or just not like your normal self, it’s time to tell someone. Stress and distress reactions are natural and can be expected, but whenever reactions seriously affect a person’s ability to do their usual day-to-day activities, it is important to seek support.
You might start by talking to someone close to you – such as a family member, friend or colleague. In can be useful to talk to people outside your own circle. Or you could talk to a counsellor or your GP. Even if you don’t think you have a mental health condition, speaking with your GP or a mental health professional can help you make sense of your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
You can use this list to find a mental health support service in Queensland.
A new dedicated BeyondBlue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is now available 24/7 to support all Australians during this challenging time. It offers trained counsellors, as well as an online platform with forums and mental health resources.
If you think you might harm yourself or others, seek immediate help from a medical professional. If you think it’s an emergency or someone’s life is in danger, call Triple Zero (000) or head straight to the closest emergency department.
The below helplines offer further support:
Lifeline: visit the website or call 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: visit the website or call 1300 22 4636