Five ways to stay mentally well during COVID-19

Five ways to stay mentally well during COVID-19

If you’re worrying about the global COVID-19 virus pandemic, you’re not alone.  With its future trajectory still uncertain, it’s perfectly normal to be cautious, concerned, and confused about how much to panic or prepare.

While health officials urge social distancing measures and grocery stores are out of lots of staples, here are some tips to make sure you’re looking after your mental health and well-being in the midst of the current health crisis:

1) Socially distance, but stay connected.  Health officials inform us that keeping our physical space from people can help contain the spread of the virus, but it’s important to be able to still reach out to social supports to curb loneliness that may arise.  Try having a Skype, Whatsapp, or Facetime catch up with friends or family.  Coordinate a date to make yourself a coffee, pour yourself a wine, or sit down to eat at the same time as friends/family and enjoy each other’s company via the interweb and make sure you check in on each other.

2) Exercise – at home or in your neighbourhood.  Exercise is one of those activities that has mood boosting properties1, so make sure you’re still trying to get in some elevated heart beats even if you’re quarantined at home.  Pull out that old yoga mat or those weights from under the bed and turn your living room into a pop-up gym for 30 minutes.  There are usually some pretty good free YouTube yoga or cardio workout videos which you can enjoy from the comfort of your phone/laptop and still get the benefit of doing some exercise.  Or go for a walk/run throughout your neighbourhood, just make sure you’re dodging others with a distance of at least 1.5 meters.

3) Re-kindle old hobbies or back-burnered projects.  Remember that bookcase you were going to fix?  That photo album you wanted to put together?  Some “forced downtime,” even if it is for a scary world health crisis, can mean that you have new opportunities to revisit old projects that can help focus your mind and still feel purpose-driven.

4) Check in on your neighbours and volunteer to help in ways you can. Volunteering has been shown to reduce loneliness and increase people’s sense of belonging2-3 – so if you have neighbours in need of help try offering a hand.

5) Speak to a mental health professional.  If you’re feeling very anxious, scared, and stressed about the state of the world right now and you’d like some professional help, know that you can still reach out to mental health professionals without having to leave your house.  There are several 24-hour crisis hotline numbers which can support you and your family during this time, such as:

  • Lifeline at 13 11 14
  • Parent Line for any parenting stress issues (which may increase as the kids are kept home from school) at 13 22 29
  • Kids Helpline at 1800 551 800

 

Here at Couples Therapy Melbourne, we’re offering video sessions with both couples and individuals using https://doxy.me/ – a secure, video platform which enables us to meet with you in a healthy and safe way.  If you’d like to learn more about our video sessions and whether you can book in a virtual appointment to meet with one of our therapists, contact us at 1300 78 184 or info@couplesmelbourne.com.

 

References

1 Berger, B. G., & Motl, R. W. (2000). Exercise and mood: A selective review and synthesis of research employing the profile of mood states. Journal of applied sport psychology12(1), 69-92.

2 Smith, J. M. (2012). Toward a better understanding of loneliness in community-dwelling older adults. The Journal of psychology146(3), 293-311.

3 Carr, D. C., Kail, B. L., Matz-Costa, C., & Shavit, Y. Z. (2018). Does becoming a volunteer attenuate loneliness among recently widowed older adults?. The Journals of Gerontology: Series B73(3), 501-510.