Have you been wondering how to look after your mental health, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic?
It has been a difficult time throughout the world, with some areas affected more than others. Nevertheless, there has been a surge in stress and anxiety globally as we face this new challenge.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines COVID -19 as:
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.”
How COVID-19 has been affecting Mental Health
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic recession have negatively affected many people’s mental health, with stress, panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and grief and loss arising, due to the fear of the unknown, the challenges of social isolation, lockdowns, and even the unexpected death of loved ones.
While it all takes a toll, here are some tips on how to look after your mental health during this (and any other) difficult time:
- Take a break from the news
It’s important to stay informed, but try to limit your media intake to a couple of times a day using only trusted news sources to prevent becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus updates. This includes social media! If you’re feeling bored or isolated, make a point of doing another activity instead (some ideas for you below).
- Stay Active
You can stay active by performing regular exercise. There are many exercises you can do from home that will benefit your physical and mental health. For example, you could try yoga by downloading a free iOS or Android mobile phone app, like Seven-7 Minute. Walking and running are also great for both body and mind.
- Learn something new
Did you ever want to learn to play a musical instrument? Now is a great time to start. Or what about a new language?! Check out YouTube which has great free online tutorials for pretty much everything!
- Create a music playlist
Music can make us feel so much better. It can help to regulate your emotions and boost your mood. Make a playlist of your favourite songs, or ask your friends to nominate five of their favourite songs for something a bit different. And if you want to get fancy, you could make several playlists for different moods/vibes (eg rainy day, feeling happy, etc.).
- 10 Minutes Mindfulness Meditation
When you are feeling stressed about something, your thoughts tend to go to the worst case scenario (future) or previous difficult times (past). Practising 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation helps you to focus on the present, inducing a sense of calm. Download a free mindfulness meditation app such as Insight Timer or Smiling Mind.
- Chat with your friends
Even if it isn’t possible to get together face to face, modern technology means you can still stay in touch, whether by text, Messenger, Zoom, FaceTime or What’s App.
- Make a homemade meal
Good nutrition is always important, but during stressful times there’s nothing better than a tasty, healthy homemade meal – especially if you made it yourself. Try something new – ask a friend or family member for their favourite recipe and food. Of course one impact of the pandemic is that it may be challenging to get some ingredients at the moment. If you’re running low or unable to get certain things, it’s totally fine to keep it simple. You could also get creative with substitutions, or Google ‘[ingredient] substitute’ for ideas.
- Watch or read something uplifting
Distraction can help, watching something funny or uplifting can help you to forget about what’s going on in the world for a while. Check out YouTube or one of the free streaming services like Seven+, 9Now, or ABC iview. Also, if you enjoy reading, there are many websites such as eBooks Online/ SCRIBD that give you 30 days’ free access.
- Seek professional help
Finally, even during the tightest lockdown help is always available. Here at M1 Psychology, we provide telehealth counselling via phone call or skype in certain circumstances such as the current pandemic, so please feel free to book an appointment with me.
Author: Vishal Patel, M Social Work, AASW, AMHSW.
Vishal Patel is an Accredited Mental Health Social Worker, with significant experience in working with victims of trauma, abuse and violence. His area of interest includes addressing significant complex and challenging behaviours in children under the age of 12 years. He is able to provide therapy in English, Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu.
To make an appointment try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call M1 Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3067 9129.