In recent weeks, our communities have received a large amount of information about the Coronavirus that has left many feeling anxious, confused and helpless.

Keeping up to date with the right information is an important part of reacting to the virus safely and supporting our community.

How can we do this without becoming overwhelmed by stories and statistics? Lifeline Australia want communities to stay safe and calm and have provided some useful tips for how to maintain balance during this difficult time.

Managing your mental health

Here are some techniques and tools from Lifeline that may help you during this period.

  • Look for up to date information on credible websites such as the Department of Health's COVID-19 health alerts, rather than news channels and social media that create an environment of fear to gain the highest viewing or readership figures.
  • Anxiety can come from a sense of being ‘out of control’, so try to focus on elements that you can control. Wash your hands, clean your house or plan healthy meals from what you have in your cupboards.
  • Remember we have recovered from previous international health concerns before, for example Measles, SARS, Ebola. Things will return to normal in time.
  • Check in on each other and remember that social distancing does not mean shutting off from the rest of the world. Social media, telephone communication and video telecommunications such as Skype or Facetime are even more essential during this period, so check in on your family and friends on a regular basis. Catch up with that friend you’ve been meaning to call for ages! Social connectedness helps us to stay mentally well. If you do find yourself getting tired or drained after supporting others, remember to take time to recharge your batteries and do something nice for yourself.
  • Remember your values. Most people are good, kind and considerate of others. Fear can make people react in an angry manner that is out of character for them. Check in with how you are feeling and try not to judge others.
  • Limit your consumption of media and social media by stepping away from your electronic devices and reading a book or listening to music. Get active! Play games, do a puzzle.
  • If you find yourself frequently worrying about the future, practice mindfulness to focus your attention and calm your mind. Sit quietly and take three slow deep breaths, being conscious of feeling the air come into your body and slowly exhale. Ensure that your feet are flat on the floor and your hands are relaxed.
  • The psychological benefits of walking in the outdoors are well known so if you do not need to self-isolate, take a stroll to your local park, a morning walk to watch the sunrise or check out the hiking trails and the beautiful national parks. Do remember to maintain social distancing and recommended hygiene practices. If you do have to self-isolate but you have outside space, consider doing yoga on your balcony or planning some workout routines that utilise what you already have handy. There’s plenty of resources online that can help you with this.
  • If you are self-isolating and not working, set yourself some daily challenges with a friend or group so that you still have sense of routine and achievement. This could be something healthy, creative or mindful, and be sure to check in daily and encourage everyone to stay motivated.

It is important that everyone comes together as a community and supports each other through the next few months.

Lifeline’s crisis support service on 13 11 14 is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and exists to support you in times of crisis. Please reach out to Lifeline or encourage your friends, family and community to reach out if they are struggling.

This article was originally published by P&N Bank: Managing your psychological health during COVID-19

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