We’re living through a pandemic and if you’re struggling to cope with this on top of regular life, you’re not alone. It’s terrible news, we must take it seriously and we must slow COVID-19 down. We’re in this together and we can slow this down successfully (like South Korea and Singapore have).
The best way to do that is through good hygiene and sensible precautions like staying home as much as possible.
COVID-19 is warring with us, but this time we soldiers get to stay home and band together by staying apart except for essentials. Essential services staying open are listed on this page. Mental health is an essential service, but it’s not essential for us to be in the same room, for me to support you.
Now we have to self-isolate and stop travelling around so much, we’ll meet online or via phone so you can get the support you need. I’ve been doing online work for a few years now, and I find it works really well. I’ll step you through the whole process so you’ll be able to onboard easily. I use Coviu – it’s cloud-based and you don’t need an account to use it.
Book now or call +61 456 033 200 for a chat.
What to do
Don’t leave your house except for absolutely essential needs. Get contactless home delivery if you can.
Listen to Grandma – Grandma’s suggestion on Coronavirus – she’s wise.
Host a COVID-19 Happy Hour for friends, or family or colleagues by using Zoom, Facetime, Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram or just the phone line open on speaker.
Wash your hands well and often with soap and water to stay healthy and slow the spread of droplet-borne illnesses.
Here’s a list of catchy tunes to sing as you wash your hands well for at least 20 seconds.
Here’s a good list of what to have at home for isolation.
Here’s how to self-quarantine. Remember to keep your day/night routines, stay active, eat healthily, work/learn from home, and connect online or by telephone with those you love. Try not to go overboard on reading things.
Lower your expectations of daily productivity if you’re juggling kids at home too.
Lower your expectation of their school performance if you’re schooling-at-home.
Everything’s harder for everyone all the time, both in their thinking and in their hearts. Love people as best as you can. Forgive those around you easily, we’re all anxious and irritable.
Call me or email to find out more and read this if you’re feeling a bit panicky right now, see if anything on that emotional first aid page is helpful to calm you and help you connect with valuable actions.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19 please do not visit your GP, instead call the Australian Coronavirus COVID-19 Triage Hotline
1800 020 080
A public medical information hotline is provided by Nurse-on-Call 1800 675 398 – please call if you want advice you might usually seek from your GP about matters unrelated to COVID-19.
Staying at home is sticking together
Remember that our health system is excellent and well-staffed, we are a resourceful and community-minded people, we know how to do difficult things well, we’re plucky and we can work together beautifully.
Our health system needs us to stay home and do as best as we can to try not to get sick. Lots of people will get sick despite precautions, and lots of people will die because they’re vulnerable. if you’re deciding whether an out-of-the-house activity is essential, please think about the life of your pregnant co-worker, your Nanna or your friend’s kid who has that illness you can never remember the name of. They all need us to stay home and pause wherever possible. Think about whether that haircut (what I want to leave for currently) is worth the risk of unchecked viral spread (not for me).
Make fun where you can, stay strong and loving where you need to and remember to breathe. Accept your feelings, defuse from your tricky thoughts and stay committed to useful and helpful actions in your own sphere of influence.
Taking care of your mental health and preventing COVID-19 anxiety from Be You Psychology and Counselling
Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak is vital. Anxiety can be just as contagious as a virus. There is definitely a strong connection between the mind and the body – our mind is very powerful.
Chronic stress does compromise the immune system because when we are stressed, our body releases cortisol into the blood stream, and higher levels of cortisol over time lead to compromised immunity.
The messages and thoughts we consume are just as important as “washing our hands” in helping us to fight this virus and reduce our stress levels.
With all of this in mind, we believe that cleansing our mind is just as important as washing our hands, so we have put together a list of strategies, tools, ideas and resources for managing and preventing COVID-19 anxiety.
Strategies for PREVENTING COVID-19 anxiety (early intervention):
- Establish a daily routine or use a Goals Timetable. When everything around you is constantly changing, continuing to maintain some consistency, structure and routine in your day-to-day activities will help you with adapting to the change in a supported way. Break your day up into blocks and include a variety of different activities: organisational tasks, social, pleasurable, physical, Mindfulness.
- Practice relaxation or meditation daily. Practicing relaxation and mindfulness will certainly help to lower your stress levels. Remember, relaxation and mindfulness exercises are not intended to treat an acute panic attack in the moment, but rather, to be practiced daily over time to reduce your overall level of stress, which in turn will result in fewer acute episodes of stress. It is recommended that you practice these exercises daily even when you are not feeling stressed. If you only practice when you are stressed or anxious, you will not get the full benefit. Find a suitable time in your day to schedule in your relaxation or mindfulness practice and commit to it as a daily part of your routine. Setting an alarm or reminder on your phone may be helpful for this. You may find it initially difficult to stick to this routine, but after a while it turns into a habit. As you start to see the benefits of your daily practice, you are likely to want to continue with this.
- Exercise 30 mins / day. Exercise has many benefits for your overall health and mental health. Namely, it release endorphins (feel good chemicals) into the blood stream, which helps to improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Ensuring you get a variety of different nutrients into your diet.
- Get at least 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is also important both for your general and mental health.
- Address the content of your thoughts and challenge any unrealistic or unhelpful thinking patterns. Work through some Thought Records or try Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with your psychologist. In the meantime, perhaps you could try using the 3 C’s:
Catch the Thought (we can’t change what we don’t notice).
Check the Thought (Is this thought helpful? Is this thought realistic?).
Change/Challenge the Thought (What is a more helpful or realistic way of looking at this situation?).
- Take a break from or set a limit on your consumption of mainstream media, news coverage of COVID-19 social media etc. To stay up to date with information, stick to trustworthy sources (i.e. messages from Government bodies/authorities).
- Set time aside each day for gratitude journal and/or discussion of some nice things that happened in your day (Did you see someone doing something kind in the supermarket? Did you do something nice for someone else today? etc). At times like these, it can be easy to see the world through a negative lens, but remember to look for the helpers and for the people spreading kindness and generosity into our community.
- Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. Normalise your feelings – most other human beings are feeling this way at the moment, too. It’s ok to feel whatever you feel. Honour it, express it, talk about it… but don’t let it become all-consuming.
Strategies to use when anxiety takes hold:
- Practice a SAFE PLACE meditation. Visualise a safe place in your mind. It could be a somewhere you’ve been before or a new place that you create in your mind. Perhaps a beach, a forest, a campfire, floating on clouds, etc.
- Practice COPE AHEAD skill. Imagine yourself coping with your most feared situation/outcome. What does that look like for you? How are you problem solving it? What are you doing? How are you doing it?
- Practice a short Mindfulness meditation or activity (using the Calm app or perhaps try the guided relaxation exercises on our website).
- Use the STOP practice: Stop, Think, Observe, Proceed.
- Self-care activities i.e. yoga (Jessica Dewar Yoga is a donation-based studio and they are offering Live Streaming of all their yoga classes if you can’t attend in person!), reading (* Aimee’s recommendation Leigh Sales’ – An Ordinary Day), watching movies, listening to music, listening to podcasts etc.
- Sensory diet: Ground yourself by labelling 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, 5 things you can feel.
- Breathing exercises for panic or rhythmic breathing: If you are experiencing a panic attack, remember the most effective tool is to breathe in a cycle – in for 3-6 seconds, hold for 3-6 seconds, out for 4-8 seconds, until your symptoms pass.
- Progressive muscle relaxation (soundcloud)
- Use distress tolerance skills (if you don’t have them, request a copy from your psychologist)
- Work with a psychologist to understand the content, mechanisms and underlying motives for your anxiety related to COVID-19.
- Create a more meaningful life tied in with your core values (social, career, family, friends, hobbies)
- Complete self-monitoring table to measure your progress over time and hold yourself accountable
- Practice all the strategies listed above on a regular basis. This will help to build a sense of mastery over any emotions that come up (fear, stress, anger, etc) and allow some space between stimulus and response.
- Reading on mindfulness, emotion regulation, distress tolerance
- Attend counselling sessions in person or by telephone/video.