We are facing increasingly uncertain times. The outbreak of coronavirus is impacting millions of people across the globe in many different ways, and in times of uncertainty, it’s understandable to feel scared, anxious, stressed and even overwhelmed by the changes.
And while we’ve all been encouraged to practice social distancing and self-isolate in our homes to help flatten the curve and reduce the spread of Covid-19, it comes with a cost. In particular, for those that live alone, it could contribute to feelings of loneliness.
If you’re feeling stressed or anxious or find yourself dealing with depressive thoughts, it’s important to remember that help is available. We’re all in this together and now more than ever, it’s time for Aussies to band together and to check in with friends, family and neighbours. While we may not be able to see them physically, there are many ways to connect and gain that social connection we all crave during times of loneliness. Pick up the phone, make a FaceTime call to your grandkids or arrange a Skype date to enjoy a virtual coffee with your friends.
As former prime minister Julia Gillard said recently: “We all have a role to play in ensuring that our communities are as safe and healthy as they can be and that everyone has access to the support and provisions they need”.
Isolation is something that Gillard is familiar with, recently having to endure a period of quarantine after her friend Sophie Trudeau, the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, tested positive for coronavirus. Writing for the Herald Sun recently, Gillard – who’s chair of Beyond Blue, the mental health organisation – spoke about how we can take care of our mental health when facing these uncertain times.
“It’s perfectly normal to feel a level of anxiety about events unfolding here and overseas and question how they will impact on you and your family and friends,” she said. “Uncertainty about what will happen next and disruption to our usual routines can make it difficult to stay grounded and can increase feelings of helplessness.
“But we are not helpless. Just as there are practical steps we can take to reduce our risk of catching or spreading the virus, there are many things we can do to minimise distress and strengthen our emotional wellbeing.”
For those who are feeling anxious or distressed during these uncertain times, Beyond Blue suggests the following:
Meanwhile, Lifeline has some great suggestions for how to stay connected to your loved ones and your community even when you can’t see people in person. Lifeline’s suggestions include:
Head to Health, an Australian government initiative to support mental wellbeing, points out that trying to keep things in perspective, even when your mind might want to blow them out of proportion, can really help.
It reminds readers that events like infectious diseases often follow a predictable course and that this isn’t the first time we’ve faced such a threat over the past 50 years. Remember tuberculosis, SARS, Ebola, HIV, hepatitis and measles, to name a few?
“Initially, there is often skepticism, followed by attention, followed by panic, followed by reality, followed by a return to normality,” the Head to Health site says. “Stock markets and supermarket shelves are good indicators of where we are in the course. Reminding yourself of these patterns can help you to understand the course and plan for the future.”
You can find other calming, fact-based thoughts about the current crisis on the Head to Health site here. They may well help set your mind to rest on something that’s worrying you.
There are also online and telephone-based support services if you need to talk to someone.
If you’re feeling anxious or depressed, Beyond Blue has a wide range of resources available, including online forums where you can talk to people who are experiencing similar things. To speak to someone directly, phone 1300 22 4636, or visit the Beyond Blue website to chat to a professional online.
If you need someone to talk to, but don’t have friends and family who you can reach out to, Lifeline is available 24/7. You can phone their hotline and speak to a compassionate support worker on 13 11 14. If you’d prefer not to talk directly, Lifeline Text gives you the option to text with a support worker from 6pm – 12pm, or you can use the Crisis Support Chat feature on the website to speak to someone from 7pm – 12pm seven days a week.
Important information: The information provided on this website is of a general nature and information purposes only. It does not take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. It is not personalised health advice and must not be relied upon as such. Before making any decisions about your health or changes to medication, diet and exercise routines you should determine whether the information is appropriate in terms of your particular circumstances and seek advice from a medical professional.