The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has shut down countries, cruise ships, art galleries as well as events large and small, from music festivals to the footy to Formula 1. Businesses are asking staff to work remotely, with Time magazine calling it the ‘World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment’.
As workplaces and individuals, what can we do to care for our physical and mental wellbeing throughout this period?
Here are some tips from The Mind Room team:
Good guidance: There is enough uncertainty at a time like this, so try controlling the controllables. Whether you are a business or household leader – communicate your expectations clearly. Let people know how long you think they could be working from home (share the best official guidance), what they can be doing from home, what daily communication platforms will be used. One major stressor and cause of burnout for employees is a lack of job clarity and expectations. Be clear and communicate, communicate, communicate.
A dose of good news: Try choosing your information sources wisely so you do not get caught up in misinformation and panic. We know that the human brain is more responsive and sensitive to negative news, threat or danger. We absorb this information more easily and readily and store it in memory, close at hand to recall at speed if we even perceive the tiniest whiff of danger. Try actively adding an extra dose of good news to your information diet. Try instagram sources like @reasonstobecheerful @happtivist to stay optimistically informed.
Routine: In times of uncertainty a little structure can be reassuring. Try to create an at home routine that keeps you feeling healthy and safe. Keep to your sleep-wake routine, prepare and cook healthy meals, hydrate well, and work out ways to keep moving. Try a 7-minute workout (there’s an app for that) or maybe put Jane Fonda on the TV and get your favourite lycra on.
Connect: You may not be able to hang out with your friends or colleagues in real life but you can still connect online. We know that loneliness is a significant social health issue. So pick up the phone, get your friends on WhatsApp or arrange a Virtual Reality meetup.
Be creative and have fun: Countries like China, Italy, South Korea and Iran have been hard hit by the coronavirus early on. They also are leading the way in finding novel ways to connect and have fun. Facebook is full of videos showing at-home antics from impromptu balcony opera performances and sing-alongs in Italy to dance battles in China.
Pause and reflect. It is seldom that the world forces us to slow down. See this as an opportunity to take stock of your life and the way that you live. What is working well for you? What would you like to change? This is not meant to be a list of all the things you do wrong, rather focus on what matters most. Check in with your values, those guiding principles that support your choices, decisions and actions in life.
Health first. If you do become physically unwell while at home seek medical advice. If you are feeling like your mental health is suffering, seek mental health advice. The Mind Room is here to support you, contact us on (03) 9495 6261.
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To stay up-to-date with Coronavirus Information, check in with the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080 or visit www.health.gov.au
Mental Health Support
In a mental health crisis, call Lifeline 13 11 14
Another way to ensure you’re looking after your mental health during periods of isolation is by connecting with others – Beyond Blue have an online forum ‘Coping with coronavirus’ which is a safe place where anyone can share how they’re feeling and offer support to those affected.