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***Last updated 17/06/2020***

 

With all the uncertainty around COVID-19, many Tasmanians are experiencing a range of emotions, including stress, anxiety or just generally feeling overwhelmed. These feelings are normal responses to the current situation. In fact they are protective mechanisms that we’ve evolved to help to keep ourselves and others safe.

While these are normal responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic, our bodies aren’t designed to deal with increased anxiety and fear for long periods of time, so it’s vital that we’re not only looking after ourselves, but also those around us.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you reduce anxiety and stress, and maintain your mental health while dealing with COVID-19.

Tips for looking after your mental health

While it’s important to stay informed, the volume of news and social media covering COVID-19 can be overwhelming. Conflicting information can also cause confusion and anxiety.

To avoid being overloaded by the bad news, try to limit the amount of news you read. Get up to date by checking announcements from reliable, official sources, like the State and Federal Government websites listed above, once or twice a day.

Continue doing the things you would usually do each day. Wake up at your usual time. Eat regular meals. Exercise. Anything you can do to make things feel normal will help to reduce stress and anxiety.

If you’re working from home:

  • Get up and prepare for the day as you normally would: Shower, get dressed and get yourself into the mindset it’s a workday and not the weekend.
  • Start your workday at the same time you normally would.
  • Maintain a clean work environment: Make the effort to clear your work space, otherwise it will frustrate you all day.
  • Take breaks: Get outside for a bit, go for a walk, get some fresh air while you hang out the washing.
  • Talk to someone: If you have people you need to work with, try a call instead of an email. It will help keep you connected and social – they will probably enjoy it too!
  • Pop on a podcast or some local radio every now and then: Even if it’s only on in the background it’s nice to hear other people talking.
  • Make sure you have healthy snacks handy – the kitchen is right there and will be calling!

Increased anxiety can lead us to start thinking things are worse than they actually are. Rather than assuming the worst-case scenario:

  • Remind yourself that strategies have been put in place to minimise the impact of the virus across the community.
  • Remember, illness due to coronavirus infection is often mild and most people recover without needing specialised treatment.
  • Sometimes thinking about how you would cope, even if the worst were to happen, can help you put things into perspective. You’re more resilient than you think you are.

Remember that scientists, politicians, medical experts and public health experts around the world are working tirelessly to limit the spread of the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.

Following basic hygiene principles to protect yourself against the virus can help you regain a feeling of being in control and reduce anxiety.

The WHO recommends you:

  • wash your hands frequently
  • avoid touching your face
  • stay at home if you feel unwell
  • seek medical advice if you have a fever, cough or experience
    breathing difficulties.

Self care looks different for everyone, but whatever form it takes it can help you maintain a positive mindset and stay mentally healthy. Some examples of self-care include:

  • maintaining social connections with family and friends
  • activities and hobbies you enjoy
  • eating a healthy diet, exercising, getting enough sleep and avoiding the use of alcohol, tobacco and other drugs to cope with stress
  • relaxation, meditation and mindfulness

It’s a challenging time for everyone, some more so than others, but we’re in this together. Look after yourself and be kind to each other.

If you’re struggling, there is support available.

A Tasmanian Lifeline 1800 98 44 34  – information, advice and support for all Tasmanians during the coronavirus pandemic.

Beyond Blue Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service 1800 512 348

Lifeline 13 11 14 or TXT 0477 13 11 14, 6pm-midnight (AEDT)

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Rural Alive and Well 1300 4357 6283

Richmond Health (for aged care residents) 03 6111 6049

 

Rural Health Tasmania:

Rural Health Tasmania provides mental health counselling via phone and face to face for at risk patients. They also provide Mental Health Nurses for people with severe and complex mental illness. These services are provided across the entire North West, West Coast, Central Coast and King Island.

Location Direct Phone Number
Smithton Emmett St (03) 6452 1266
NO 34 Aboriginal Health Ulverstone (03) 6417 6080
Devonport Office (03) 6417 3202
Wynyard Office (03) 6411 4720
Burnie Office (03) 6411 1870
Sheffield Office (03) 6491 2740
King Island Office (03) 6406 8710
Queenstown Office (03) 6407 1705

You can find more information about how to get help and support, here.