How to look after your wellbeing during the coronavirus outbreak
Feelings of anxiety, distress and concern can arise at any time, but many people may be experiencing a spike in ill mental health in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
It’s important to recognise the signs and show support during the current world climate while following wellbeing advice in what will be an ongoing, difficult period.
Try to maintain perspective
While it is reasonable to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
Finding a healthy balance in sourcing media coverage
Being exposed to large volumes of negative information can heighten anxiety and while it’s important to stay informed, it may be useful to limit media intake if it is upsetting.
Sourcing quality information
It’s important to get accurate information from credible sources. This will also help you maintain perspective and feel more in control.
Try not to make assumptions
To contribute to a sense of community wellbeing, try to remember that the coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of their nationality or ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
Try to maintain a calm and practical approach
Widespread panic can complicate efforts to manage the outbreak effectively. Do your best to stay calm and follow official advice, particularly around observing good hygiene habits.
Manage your mental health in self-isolation or quarantine
There are a variety of ways to support your mental health during periods of self-isolation or quarantine:
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of the virus.
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting the virus.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, video conferencing or telephone.
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
- Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
- Try to maintain physical activity.
- Establish routines as best as possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits.
- For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated workspace.
- Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
Have the conversation
Families and caregivers of children and young people should discuss news of the virus with those in their care openly and honestly. Try to relate facts without causing alarm, and in a way that is age and temperament appropriate. It’s normal to feel concerned and it is important to listen to any questions they may have and to let them know that they are safe. If the news or media coverage is proving too much, try to limit their exposure.
Support of health care workers
Health care workers may feel extra stress during the COVID-19 outbreak. Such feelings are not a sign of weakness and there are practical ways to manage your mental health during this time, including:
- Getting enough rest during work hours and between shifts.
- Eating healthy foods and engaging in physical activity.
- Keeping in contact with colleagues, family and friends by phone or online.
- Being aware of where you can access mental health support at work.
- If you’re a manager, trying to create mentally healthy work structures.
It’s important to recognise the pressures health systems and workers are under, so we should all take steps to support them where possible. Following government advice about ways individuals can help slow the spread of the virus will support our health care workers.
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed or stressed by news of the outbreak, but it’s important for people who have experienced mental health issues in the past to:
- activate your support network;
- acknowledge feelings of distress;
- seek professional support early if you’re having difficulties.
For those already managing mental health issues, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.
Social contact and maintaining routines can be supportive for our mental health and wellbeing. While attending large events or regular social outings may not be possible, staying connected with friends and family online or by phone may be helpful.
Beyond Blue also has a dedicated page on its forums about coping during the coronavirus outbreak. Click here for information