Posted on: 12/05/2020

5 ways to look after your mental health

Feeling anxious, stressed or generally unhappy?

We know it’s important to look after our mental health, but in these stressful times that is far easier said than done.

Here are some basic ways you can incorporate looking after your mental health into your day-to-day routines.

 

  1. Keep connections

We are stronger, happier and healthier when we connect with each other. At a time when face to face contact is difficult, connecting in other ways is a vital part of self-care.

If you are feeling down it is even more important to try and keep in contact with others as it will help you to feel supported when you need it most. 

Some ways to connect:

  • Video calls such as FaceTime or Zoom
  • Join an online group or class
  • Send a text message to a friend asking how they are
  • Chat on the phone
  • Play online games
  • Try and reschedule social events that may have been cancelled to an online formatIf you feel in urgent need of support please check out the emergency numbers below or call 000.
  1. What is grounding and how can it help?

Grounding techniques can help you focus on how your body is currently feeling so you don’t get overwhelmed by ongoing trauma, fears or anxiety.

Essentially, grounding works by distracting you from negative emotions and thoughts.

When you feel anxiety building, one basic grounding technique is to go through your five senses, one by one, taking note of what you can:

  • Hear
  • Smell
  • Touch
  • See
  • Taste.

Once you have become more aware of how you are feeling, take some slow breaths to bring yourself back to the present.

 “Many people find it calming to take a moment to check in with how your body is feeling by focussing on your different senses. Then you ask yourself, Does my anxiety match the circumstances I am in?” says Jenny Field, Windermere Mental Health and Wellbeing counsellor.

  1. Go back to the basics

In moments like these, when there are so many unknowns it can be helpful to focus on what we can control, rather than what we can’t.

“It’s useful to go back to basic routines when we are trying to deal with so many external changes. Routines can give us stability and certainty during times of uncertainty. It’s about doing the things that you already know work for you and your family,” says Jenny.

Basic routines might include:

  • Keeping a regular morning routine
  • Walking the dog or other pet care activities
  • Keeping a journal
  • Looking after your body clock by sticking to regular sleeping, waking and eating patterns
  • Doing an outdoor activity
  • Setting times to explore interests and hobbies (music, chatting with friends, reading, gardening etc)
  • Allocating times for chores/learning/work
  • Creating routines that build in movement (such as stretching in the morning)
  • Allocating times to listen to or watch the news rather than have it on continuously. If you have bad news on all the time it can be overwhelming.
  1. Protect children

Children will generally be aware that the coronavirus has caused lots of concern amongst adults and may also worry.

It can be useful to:

  • Chat to children about what they understand is happening
  • Ask them if they have any concerns
  • Be mindful about how much ‘bad news’ your children are hearing (news reports, family discussions)
  • For young children especially, it is best to focus on the facts and keep explanations simple. You can find some more information on this here: https://www.mindheart.co/descargables
  • Children often fear for loved ones, so reassure them that we can look after each other by following good hygiene, such as hand washing.

 

  1. Acknowledge past trauma and difficulties

For family violence and trauma survivors, being in self isolation can be especially distressing as it can be a reminder of the past. 

“We are noticing this theme is coming up for a lot of women with family violence trauma. Being in isolation and in an unknown situation makes her body feels like she is back there,” says Jenny.

If your current circumstances are causing you to re-live trauma, it can be helpful to think of the differences between now and then. For example, you may need to stay at home in your current situation, but you are in a safe place and in control of the decisions you make in your own home.

Social isolation may increase your risk of family violence, reduce your safety and increase your mental health vulnerability.  If you are at risk of family violence then it is important for you to have a safety plan.

You can find out more information about developing a safety plan here in this article from the Domestic Violence Resource Centre.

 

Useful resources

The below organisation are providing useful mental health resources. You can also contact them if you have a concern or need urgent assistance. 

In an emergency, call 000

 

Lifeline 

24-hour Telephone Crisis Support, phone 13 11 14

 

SafeSteps

24 hour family violence response service for women and children.

Phone 1800 015 188

 

Beyond Blue

24/7 trained counsellors.

Beyondblue.org.au

 

1800 Respect

Sexual assault, domestic & family violence counselling, information & referrals. 24/7 Counselling.

Phone 1800 512 348

 

Black Dog Institute

Resources for understanding and supporting mental health.

 

Kids Helpline

Help and support for children and young people 24/7.

Phone 1800 55 1800

 

Windermere Child & Family Services

Windermere offers confidential counselling services for families and individuals experiencing sexual assault and family violence.

Phone 1300 946 337