How to Get Through your Isolation Period Without Compromising your Mental Health

(Credits to KATE BARTELS, domain.com.au)

 

Staying indoors surrounded by endless news stories and uncertainty can be daunting, and while there is lots of information available on how to protect our physical health during the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of mental health is just as important.

 

Without the ability to leave the house, the days can become long. However, mental health professionals say there is plenty that we can do to keep spirits high and make it through the days with high energy.

Co-founder of The Mind Room and clinical psychologist Dr Jo Mitchell says staying away from unhelpful news sources is a great place to start, as is making sure the information you do consume is from a credible source.

“Choose your information sources,” she says. “The human brain is more responsive to negative news, so do your best to add a dose of light content into your day.”

While some people will have the option to work from home, Mitchell says there is a role that employers and employees have to play to help lower stress and anxiety levels.

“We all need good guidance and we need to understand what our role is,” she says. “For employers, this means communicating clearly and for employees, this means understanding the role you are playing by staying at home.”

 

As Australians fear for their personal health, it is becoming increasingly important not to stigmatise friends and family who are isolating or have been tested positive, but to reach out to them instead.

Leanne Hall, clinical psychologist and therapist, says reaching out to those who are at home is now more important than ever.

 

“Don’t just send a text, start that way if you like but people need contact and they need to hear voices, but don’t ring them all the time and ask them about their symptoms,” she says.

“We’re all interested to know what it feels like to have this virus, but we need to stay away from that.

“People want to hear what’s going on in your life, and they still want you to send them those funny pictures that you normally would send them.”

Hall also stresses that while health services have called on Australians to exercise “social distance,” that doesn’t mean we can’t still be social.

“It’s actually physical distancing, not social distancing, so you can still pick up the phone and have that catch-up over Skype or FaceTime,” she says. “Why not still have your coffee catch-up or your wine date at home?”

 

While at home, it can be easy to slump into a loss of routine, but it’s best to stay off the couch, keep the bingeing to later in the evening, and try to maintain as much normality as possible, according to Mitchell.

“The biggest thing we can do is connect. We are all online, use that connection. Keep your sleep and wake routine the same, make healthy meals, hydrate, try to move your body and stay active in some way,” she says.

One of many organisations trying their best to keep their customers connected and safe is fitness program Keep it Cleaner (KIC). For the next two weeks co-founders Laura Henshaw and Stephanie Smith will run live virtual workouts.

Henshaw says the company wanted to do something to show their support.

“Our favourite part of the KIC community is seeing the connection among KIC users – we thought what better way to give back than to bring this connection to everyone?” she says.

“The KIC mission is to positively change as many women’s lives as possible … we wanted to share this with the rest of the community at a time when maybe they aren’t taking care of themselves like they normally would.”

Agreeing with Mitchell, Henshaw also believes that taking care of your mind and body while at home is particularly important.

“I think a holistic approach to health is really important, particularly during stressful times. When you are healthy it’s more than just how fit you are or how well you eat, it also includes your mental wellbeing.”

Both Hall and Mitchell say getting down to the little projects and keeping yourself busy is the key to helping yourself.

“We all have those little projects that we never get around to doing, now is the time. Choose something hands-on so you can still get that sense of achievement,” says Hall.

“You’re not going to forget that you’re sick, and that’s fine, but it’s good to take your mind elsewhere.”

“Get out into the garden, go out on your balcony and be close to nature,” adds Mitchell.

Psychologists are urging people in need of mental health services to contact their provider and organise a Skype session as many professionals are still able to facilitate full services online during this time.

 

(photocredits: domain.com.au)