COVID-19: 10 ways to look after your mental health

04 March 2020

colourful mural with hands outstretched depicting mental health

The outbreak of coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has plunged the world into uncertainty. So, it’s understandable that people may be feeling afraid, worried or overwhelmed during this time. Here are some ways to protect your mental health.

1. Keep the bigger picture in mind

As humans, we are hardwired to fear the unknown. If you find yourself feeling anxious about COVID-19 try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts are all following strict protocols to contain the virus, treat people who are affected and develop a treatment and vaccine.

2. Limit media intake, and be careful what you read

It is important to stay informed, however relentless media coverage surrounding the pandemic can increase feelings of anxiety. So, limit your media intake if it is upsetting you and stick to accurate and reputable sources like the below. It might also be helpful to decide on a specific time to check in each day.

Here are a few direct links to accurate and reputable resources:

3. Reduce your social media time

Social media can be a trigger for mental health issues. What’s more, your wall or feed can often become a barrage of misleading and potentially dangerous information. So, mute keywords, accounts, posts or feeds if you find them overwhelming. And, where possible, spend your time offline.

4. Stay connected with people

Maintaining human connection is so important during this time, even if you cannot do it face-to-face. So, be sure that you have up-to-date contact details of the people you care about, regularly check-in with friends and family and reach out to those around you who you think may struggle through social isolation.

  • Lifeline also encourages people to get creative about how you interact with people. Some of their suggestions include:

  • Setting up a gratitude group where everyone in the group shares something they are grateful for

  • Finding a friend (or group of friends) to set daily challenges with

  • Setting dates and times with friends to watch the same TV shows/movies and message each other your comments as you watch

  • Joining your local community social media group (if it has one). This will help you keep you up to date with what’s going on in your neighbourhood and may help you reach out and connect with people around you

5. Keep healthy habits

Covid-19 may have blown up your usual routine, but you can still maintain healthy habits. Eating well, getting plenty of rest and exercising daily (even if it is just an at-home stretching or workout) can make all the difference in how we feel during these difficult times.

6. Be kind

Random acts of kindness enhance wellbeing. So, think about whether there is a way that you can help others around you. And keep in mind that the virus can affect anyone and that people who do contract it have not done anything wrong.

7. Create a new routine

If you are self-isolating, be sure to implement structured routines for yourself to create a sense of normality. Get out of bed, have a shower, get changed and make a plan for your day. Find activities that can help break things up and, where at all possible, change your environment for different activities.

8. Avoid burnout

If you find yourself working from home, set strict limits to the amount of work you do each day, take regular breaks, and be sure to give yourself some downtime. If possible, establish a dedicated workspace.

9. Take each day as it comes

Try not to think too far into the future. Remind yourself that this is a temporary period and that your efforts are helping to ensure your safety and the safety of others. Above all else remember that you are not alone.

10. Seek support

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by recent events, particularly if you have a history of mental health issues. Be sure to acknowledge feelings of distress and seek further professional support if required.

Beyond Blue

  • ​Beyond Blue has fact sheets about anxiety and offers other practical advice and resources at beyondblue.org.au.

  • The Beyond Blue Support Service offers short term counselling and referrals by phone and webchat on 1300 22 4636.

Lifeline

  • 13 11 14 will continue to be operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

  • Lifeline Text 0477 13 11 14 is operating from 6pm-midnight (AEDT), 7 nights a week

  • Lifeline webchat operates from 7pm-midnight (AEDT), 7 nights a week

Kids Helpline

Kids helpline is there for children and young people (aged 5 to 25 years) that may need support.

  • Call 1800 55 1800 (24 hours a day)

  • Talk one-on-one with web counselling

Check the website for more details.