An important question during this challenging time is how to best take care of your mental health and support your family. Understandably, many people are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, however, it is important to learn how to manage these feelings to prevent them from worsening. Here are some suggestions to help promote you and your family’s wellbeing:
- Know the facts. There has been a number of reports of misinformation, particularly on social media platforms. Headlines can often be sensationalised to attract attention, but this can also lead to heightened anxiety. Limit your information to reliable sources such as the Australian and NSW Health Department websites.
- Filter how much information you receive. With the 24hr news cycle, it is easy to get swallowed into the story and to feel overwhelmed. Take a break from the news and switch the channel for a bit.
- Try to see the bigger picture. With so much information about COVID-19 and changes to the way we live and interact, it can begin to feel inevitable that we’re all going to get sick. Statistics are showing that the chance of you getting COVID-19 is quite small and that if you do get it, your symptoms are likely to be mild. Whilst reading and thinking about the worst-case scenario might seem helpful, often it can act to increase anxiety unnecessarily.
- Continue to practice good self-care. This includes trying to ensure a balance of relaxation, such as listening to music or reading, but also to seek opportunities for challenges and a sense of achievement. This could be as simple as cleaning out a cupboard that has been on your to do list for ages or learning to cook something new.
- Find time to connect. Even if you are isolated for a period of time, find a way to connect with friends and family. This might be via telephone, email or FaceTime. Also, there are a number of online support groups for mums, maybe it is time to join one? Just make sure the people you connect with aren’t feeding your anxiety through their own worries. Anxiety can also be contagious at times! Instead, try to connect with people that bring you a sense of calm or fun.
- Be active. Going for a walk, doing exercise or practising some yoga outdoors can be a nice change of scenery but also good for your physical and mental wellbeing.
- Practice some meditation, mindfulness and/or breathing strategies. There are heaps of apps for your phone that can assist you with this (e.g. Smiling mind, Mind the Bump, Calm).
- Keep in a routine. Routines help provide structure to fill our days. This can help reduce uncertainty and unpredictability that can sometimes fuel anxiety. Though remember that some flexibility is also important to avoid being too upset if things don’t go to plan.
- Rest and make healthy choices. Try and get some good sleep, eat well and avoid the use of alcohol or other drugs to cope with anxiety or stress.
- Prioritise your mental health. If you feel like you’re not coping, seek professional help through your GP or Psychologist. Or call a helpline such as Lifeline (13 11 14) or PANDA hotline (1300 726 306).
Written by Kaitlyn Miller, Clinical Psychologist