As government guidelines and laws constrict to curb the spread of COVID-19, more people are taking social distancing measures and following the advice to stay home unless attending an essential task. While this is a commendable sacrifice to ensure the health of individuals and the community, the limited social contact can impact our mental health. Isolation may trigger feelings of loneliness, anxiety, helplessness and depression, however, there are ways to protect and boost your mental health and immunity.
It is important to keep busy, if you have a hobby or household project you have been putting off, now is your chance to start and complete it. If you have always wanted to learn a new language or skill there are apps and websites that can be accessed for free and put the information you need right at your fingertips. Skillshare, Duolingo, Masterclass and Scholastic are offering free virtual classes during this time. Feeling that your time is being optimised can reduce feelings of anxiety and helplessness, so keeping routine with scheduled projects and hobbies can contribute to positive feelings of accomplishment and satisfaction.
If news and social media increase your anxiety, digital distancing may help to alleviate stress while giving more time to do more healthy and productive things like reading a book, practicing yoga or even dancing. It is also important to reach out to friends and family. No one is in this alone, so call friends, neighbours, family and talk. Hosting a digital party through a video conference can also lessen the social isolation people may feel.
There are many mental health services that can be accessed from home, offering phone and online services. Beyond Blue, Kids Helpline, MensLine Australia, Open Arms, Lifeline and Suicide Call Back Services are just a few available in Australia. The most effective way to receive mental health support help is to ask for help.