As we begin to examine the impacts of COVID-19 on our society, our community, our families, ourselves and the future, we're wondering: what have been the true costs and longer term affects?
For some right now there is a big sigh of relief as we start moving towards less restrictions, for others there is still possibly fear of the unknown, ongoing restrictions and further changes.
We know there are people within our community that are struggling with numerous and confronting realities, which can be stressors with an uncertain future.
We know people have been impacted by COVID-19 in varying degrees of changes to their daily routines, which can have ongoing impacts on physical and mental health.
Most people are now looking forward to being able to find normalcy again in their day-to-day lives.
We are on the doorsteps of restrictions being lifted but need to stay vigilant in protecting our physical and mental health. What was once a normal routine may no longer be possible.
There are predictors that people of all ages - young and old - within our communities will be at an increased risk for mental health-related symptoms that can start impacting their lives.
The best advice we can give to the people of our community, parents, carers and young people is to find the new routine and stick to it.
Below are seven areas that we have control over and can make new or better choices to support our physical and mental health.
Get into Life - Set a goal or task that you want to achieve for the day - it can be something small like making your bed, going for a walk or calling a friend. Use this time to try some new hobbies and keep doing the things you love as best you can like reading, drawing or exercising.
Learn skills for tough times - It might be helpful to learn new coping skills to maintain and improve well-being. Try journaling thoughts and feelings, practice some breathing exercises, explore mental health apps or websites, create a new routine, or take a digital detox.
Create connections - While we can't physically connect with friends and loved ones, there's so many other ways to stay connected. Try connecting by video chat through Zoom or house party or try a phone call with friends and family. Online video and board games can be used to connect with others.
Eat well - Minimise unhealthy snacks while in isolation. It's good to develop coping strategies that are not related to food. Make sure your diet includes things like colourful fruits and vegetables, foods high in fibre (wholegrain cereals and bread, beans, chickpeas, lentils and nuts), fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt, olive oil, and fish (tinned is fine).
Stay active - Try doing an online fitness program or a yoga class on Instagram Live, challenge your friends to a push up challenge, get outside for fresh air or have a living room dance party - all great free ways to keep up physical and mental health.
Get enough sleep - Try to stick with a sleep routine. Go to bed and wake up at the same time as much as possible and aim for at least eight hours of sleep a night. Switch off from electronics 30-60 mins before bed.
Cut back on alcohol and other drugs - Be mindful of your use of alcohol and other drugs during isolation. Try a short break - start with a few days and then try a week, consider alternatives like herbal tea, water or a smoothie, and find new activities to keep you engaged.
If you or someone you know are not coping with life right now, please reach out for support.
Headspace Goulburn is currently offering phone and video/telehealth support for young people ages 12-25 and their family members/carers. We will return to offering face-to-face appointments once government restrictions are lifted.
You can call our Goulburn office 4824 4944 to book an appointment or contact one of the numbers below for support.
- Lifeline on 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800
- MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978
- Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36
- Headspace on 1800 650 890
- ReachOut at au.reachout.com
Gail Davies is the service manager at headspace Goulburn.
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