2020 has certainly had its challenges, and we’re starting to see some data highlighting the impact big events like bushfires and coronavirus have had on Victorians’ physical and mental health.
Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.
Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (20 October 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
VicHealth’s Coronavirus Victorian Wellbeing Impact Study revealed that during the first coronavirus lockdown, Victorians were feeling less socially connected, and many reported mental wellbeing issues and lower levels of life satisfaction.
With more of us experiencing the mental health impact of the pandemic what can we do about it?
Here are some tips from the mental health experts at Beyond Blue to help you cope with any anxiety, distress or concern related to coronavirus (COVID-19).
How can you deal with anxiety, distress and concern related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic?
The team at Beyond Blue, one of Australia’s leading mental health organisations, has put together some tips to help you manage your mental health during current restrictions.
Tips for looking after your mental health from Beyond Blue:
- Media coverage: find a healthy balance and limit news and social media if you and your family find it too distressing.
Striking a balance in your media consumption during coronavirus can minimise the possibility of you feeling overwhelmed by what is happening.
- Sources of information: access credible information from government and health authorities (i.e. Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Australian Government and World Health Organisation (WHO)).
- Maintain perspective: remember that experts around the world are working hard to help. Also, while coronavirus can affect anyone, those with the disease haven’t done anything wrong so don’t make assumptions
- Stay calm and be practical: follow advice from credible sources (see above), and continue to do the right things, as this makes it easier for authorities to manage current case numbers.
- Stay connected and/or seek support: keep in touch with your family, friends, colleagues or professional support services by phone, video call, social media or email.
Use technology to stay connected to your friends and family if you’re unable to see them in person.
- Stick to a routine: aim to get plenty of sleep, maintain physical activity, eat healthy foods and allocate specific work hours and breaks. If you’re feeling frustrated about your current experience it can help to think about what positive habits you might be able to develop, such as spending more time with the family members within your household, getting to know your neighbourhood and cooking more.
Make the time to move your body throughout the day, particularly if working remotely. Stretching at home is an easy way to stay moving.
Eating a healthy diet which includes lots of vegetables and fruit will help you feel good physically and maintain your energy levels throughout the day.
- Financial support: visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to find relevant information for Victorians, or call the National Debt Helpline.
While you may be experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and stress, following these tips can help reduce these feelings, and support your mental health so you’re better able to stay mentally healthy.
There’s help out there if you need it
While it’s normal to feel frustrated, bored or angry with the current situation from time to time there are signs of serious mental health conditions to look out for in yourself and others.
Feeling sad all the time, losing interest in the things you love doing, feeling constantly tired or feeling excessively worried or scared are symptoms you shouldn’t ignore.
It’s ok to not be ok – there is help out there and talking to someone about what you’re going through can make a big difference.
KEY CONTACTS: Phone Lifeline: 13 11 14, Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636 or Headspace: 1800 650 890
So, in summary, if you’re feeling anxious or stressed:
- Maintain perspective (this is temporary, the situation is improving)
- Take practical steps to protect yourself and your community
- Stay connected and seek support
- Access good quality information from credible sources:
- In response to the survey findings. VicHealth has announced $2.5 million in grant funding to support Victorians to create meaningful social connections, get active in a restricted environment, and access healthy, affordable food.
- To find out more, go to: vichealth.vic.gov.au/funding/reimagining-health-grants. Applications close 11.59pm Tuesday 27 October 2020.
Have questions about coronavirus?
For all Coronavirus questions visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au
Illustrations by Beci Orpin