Safeguarding your mental health during Covid-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a collective fear amongst our community, friends, family and workplace. The sense of threat is heightened because it’s invisible, extremely contagious and for some, life threatening. The resultant global shutdown has caused financial insecurity, health concerns, housing insecurity, loneliness, and even daily anxiety shopping for groceries.
We are left trying to figure out how to do the best we can to cope and get through an undefined period of time. Uncertainty of one’s future never bodes well for people. it can lead to chronic stress, anxiety, fear, sleeplessness, loss of control and strained relationships.
The Mind Up psychologists have pieced together some handy tips and information to help you understand the psychology of fear and how to cope during this time of uncertainty.
Helping you understand your reactions and emotions related to COVID-19
In general, we exist with basic assumptions that help us lead a life without stress or anxiety. These include internal statements such as: I am better than the average person; I have control over my environment / situation; and My future is rosy.
With COVID-19 you may believe your future isn’t rosy, that you cannot control your environment or that you may not be better off than your neighbour. It results in SHATTERED ASSUMPTIONS leaving you feeling vulnerable and unsafe.
To help you cope with COVID19 FEAR and ANXIETY, it is important to understand that there is a difference between the two.
FEAR is a natural response to an immediate threat.
EG. I was fearful of contracting COVID19 from my infected neighbour.
ANXIETY is a concern of a perceived threat.
EG. I’m worried my neighbour may have it and pass it on to me.
Your mental perspective
Let’s keep a cool head. This crisis will be managed with the right safety practices, tools and frame of mind. Easier said than done I hear you say. Well it will need a few key ingredients.
A pinch of facts will go a long way. For example: Understand that the mortality rate is often overestimated since many of the mild or asymptomatic cases are not taken into account in the statistics.
Measure up your lifestyle and current risk.
Fill your cup and find the lesson. This crisis can seem sad, senseless, and avoidable. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?
Your mindset shift
I’m stuck at home = I get to be safe at home
I will get sick = I will take all the necessary precautions to be well. Frequently washing my hands and wearing a mask and gloves if going outside.
I will run out of items during home isolation = I am resourceful and have everything I need for now. I can always restock later and Australia has enough supplies.
Everything is shutting down, I’m panicking = My basic needs will be met. I have access to food, shelter and water. Medical clinics and pharmacies are open too.
There is too much uncertainty now = I can only control my behaviour and choices right now. Focus on what you like to do at home, be in touch with loved ones, reach out for professional support.
Looking after your mental health in home isolation
It is vital to maintain strong social connections during isolation!
- Quarantine measures and other restrictions to everyday practices can be particularly stressful and isolating.
- Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation.
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues via email, social media, or phone.
Physical activity and healthy routines
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.
- Keep regular sleep routines and eat healthy foods.
- Avoid news and social media if you find it distressing.
- Try to maintain physical activity.
- Keep your alarm set for the same time you would if you were commuting to work. Make sure you get up and shower, change out of your pyjamas, and have breakfast.
- For those working from home, try to maintain a healthy balance by allocating specific work hours, and taking regular breaks.