Australia sits on edge as Sydney faces lockdown uncertainty amid a rapid COVID-19 outbreak – and it’s all likely to knock our mental health.
Feelings of anxiety, stress and unease can come creeping back, a shivering reminder of the turbulent environment we’ve lived through for the past 18 months.
For those who live alone – or who are separated from family and friends by closed borders – isolation and loneliness are also commonplace.
It’s a tough spot to be in, for everyone.
As well as following the public health advice and getting vaccinated as soon as you’re eligible, what we can do as individuals is focus on the mental health and wellbeing of ourselves – and if we have the capacity, others.
Accessing mental health help in lockdown
The federal government has extended its funding for telehealth until the end of the year, making it easier for people to access their general practitioners via phone consultations – and this extends to mental health services.
You can also speak with mental health outreach services like Beyond Blue and Lifeline, both of which offer services via the phone, SMS and live web chats.
Stay social (safely)
There’s also a few things we can do every day to keep ourselves focused, calm and well.
It’s important to stay connected – and thankfully in this day and age, we’ve got a plethora of ways to do so.
Talking on the phone or via video chat with family and friends can be extended to ‘sharing a meal’ together.
Consider something like Netflix party, to watch movies or binge the latest TV show with pals. There’s also a heap of websites and apps that allow you to co-play games online.
And remember, the people you reach out to are likely to be feeling similar to you – so you could be providing them a vital lifeline.
Actually get dressed
It’s also important to maintain a routine.
Keep setting your alarm, and use any lost commute time to walk or exercise.
Changing out of your pyjamas (even if it’s just into a pair of tracksuit pants that might as well be pyjamas) will help keep you in a routine.
If you’re working or learning from home, remember to take a break from the screen and get outside – fresh air does the world of good.
Got kids? Try these activities to keep them out of mischief and away from screens … at least for five minutes.
Try something new
Sourdough in lockdown jokes are as old as their starter cultures, but learning a new skill will help keep you focused and maybe even give you some excitement.
All those recipe books might finally come in handy.
Otherwise, try learning a musical instrument, a new language, crochet, or finally working out how to do tricks with a yoyo.
Health experts also recommend practices like yoga, meditation and mindfulness, to keep a perspective in situations like this.
They’re all proven stress relievers, and can even help you build mental resilience.
As much as you might want to take out your frustrations, experts say that will only offer temporary relief.
Experts recommending spending 30 minutes a day – like this – to boost your mental health.
- If you or someone you know needs help, contact Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14