While the situation around COVID-19 seems to be improving in Australia, many of us are still being bombarded with anxiety-provoking information. From news alerts about the death toll to speculations about the future of the economy or someone on your Facebook feed spruiking conspiracy theories, it can feel as though the world has been tipped upside down.
In times of change, uncertainty and hardship, it becomes even more important to look after your mental wellbeing. In doing so, you can help to keep feelings of being overwhelmed, anxiety and fear at bay.
But, how do you stay sane when the world feels crazy? Here are 6 tips for managing your mental wellbeing in the coronavirus crisis that you can use yourself, or pass on to loved ones who are struggling.
Many people associate the practice of mindfulness with yoga and meditation. But while these are certainly both great ways to practice it, they’re not the only ways.
At the heart of it, mindfulness is about staying present in the current moment. It’s not fretting about that frightening news article you read earlier or worrying about the next time you’re going to see your loved ones. It’s staying in the right here, right now — because in the present moment, things are fine.
Mindfulness has been proven to positively impact the body’s stress response, so that you feel more calm, centred and in control. And, you don’t necessarily have to sit cross-legged on the floor and try not to think about anything to do so, if that’s not your style.
Some other great ways you can practice mindfulness in your everyday life include prayer, doing creative activities like colouring-in or painting, crosswords — anything where you get completely absorbed in what you’re doing.
You can also incorporate mindfulness into mundane activities like washing the dishes, by focusing on your sensations i.e. what can you smell, what can you hear and what can you feel?
Take a digital detox
It’s important to know the facts around the ever-changing coronavirus situation, so that you can take necessary precautions. But beyond that, the constant barrage of information can do you more harm than good.
Not all news sources are completely accurate, and many make their money by enticing people to click on sensationalist headlines. So, to help alleviate some of your stress, you may want to consider doing a digital detox.
Try culling some of your sources of news information that aren’t absolutely essential and instead get your news only from credible sources such as the Australian government or the World Health Organisation.
Rather than constantly getting alerts from these every day, you may choose to check these once a day at the same time, or watch just one news update per night.
Prioritise your physical health
Your physical and mental health are inextricably connected, and you cannot have one without the other. So, in order to take care of your mind, it’s also important to take care of your body. When we’re run down, we’re more susceptible to stress and anxiety, and vice versa.
Some great ways to take care of your physical health include drinking plenty of water, eating a diet full of nutritious foods and moving your body at least once per day. If possible, also see if you can get outdoors for at least a few minutes per day, whether that’s for a brief walk around the neighbourhood or to do some gardening in the yard.
It’s also important for your overall wellbeing to get at least eight hours of sleep per night. If you are struggling to get to adequate sleep, incorporating mindfulness and digital detoxes from the previous steps might help, as well as getting some exercise and sunlight.
Look out for those around you
In times like this, it’s more important than ever to remember that we’re all in this together. Helping others in need during this difficult time is not only the right thing to do, but it can actually help with your own mental wellbeing.
Research actually shows that helping others can boost your mood and make it easier to deal with stress. It helps take your mind off you and your own worries and instead, focus on the bigger picture.
One great way you can help others in this time of need includes looking out for the seniors in your life — whether that’s your neighbours, family or friends.
With strict government advice for those over 60 to stay home, many older Australians are dealing with strong feelings of loneliness and sadness. We’ve put together a list of some simple ways you can look out for the elderly in this article.
Remain calm but cautious
As the age-old expression goes “be alert, but not alarmed.” Remaining as calm as possible during the COVID-19 outbreak doesn’t mean that you don’t care about doing your bit. It simply means that you’re focusing on what’s within your own circle of control (your own actions and how you react to it) and relinquishing control of the things you cannot.
You may want to consider making a list of the actions you can take to help the situation (such as being vigilant about washing your hands, practising social distancing, volunteering or helping others in need) so that you can focus on those, rather than what’s out of your control.
Create a routine
In a world filled with uncertainty, it can be helpful to have rituals that feel familiar and grounding. To help give some structure to your days, you may want to consider incorporating some routine into your daily life.
This might be having a cuppa on the balcony every morning, or writing down a list of things you’re grateful for every night. It could also be looking at photos of loved ones first thing in the morning and last thing at night. These routines can bookend your day and help give you some much-needed certainty.
By following the tips on this list, you can look after your mental wellbeing while you need it most — and be a calming influence on the people around you, too.