How to protect your mental health this lockdown season

Joanna Perry | Amongst all the fake news, scaremongering and panic buying, it’s more important than ever that we look after each other and ourselves.

 

If you, like many of us, are finding yourself overwhelmed and underslept by the fear, anxiety and sheer overload of information about coronavirus and the upcoming lockdown, take a breath. What you are feeling is a normal reaction, and it will pass.

Amongst all the fake news, scaremongering and panic buying, it’s more important than ever that we look after each other and ourselves. Here are some recommended ways to keep yourself feeling healthy in the weeks to come.

Limit the news and be careful what you read 

It’s easy to get swept down a rabbit hole when endless amounts of information, correct or otherwise, is readily available on our devices 24 hours a day. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, try to limit the amount of time you spend reading or watching things which aren't making you feel better. You could set a specific time to check in with the news each day, but ensure you have some breaks too. 

There’s also a lot of misinformation out there. Stay informed by sticking to trusted sources of information such as government and World Health Organization websites. The NZ government has set up an official coronavirus  page with helpful advice and information at www.covid19.govt.nz.

‎Take breaks from social media - and use it to be kind

Social media is going to be very important in helping us stay connected in the coming weeks, but it can also be a source of information overload and provides a platform for negative messages. Be careful about which accounts you tune into, and avoid clicking on coronavirus hashtags if you’re feeling anxious. 

Try to have time away from social media; watching TV, reading books or connecting with loved ones instead. Alongside FaceTime, WhatsApp and Skype, there are a host of new apps available that enable you to video chat and play games with friends all over the world. If, like me, you are separated from family and friends at this time, that’s an invaluable resource - and the app House Party is your new best friend.

Focus on using social media for the good it offers - like joining the Wānaka Caremongering Facebook page, a virtual community which allows people to help each other, or The Neighbour’s Pantry Wānaka where members of the community can share resources.

Work on a routine

While the occasional Sunday wearing pyjamas all day and eating cereal for breakfast, lunch and dinner can seem like a real treat, after a few days you might start to lose track of what day it is, and if you brushed your teeth this morning or if that was yesterday. The government recommends sticking to a routine such as having regular mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising. 

Staying active is incredibly important. Get some sunlight with a (socially-distant) walk, run or cycle. Alternatively, there’s a tonne of free home workouts becoming available online from all over the world, from yoga through to high intensity interval training.

Make the most of this rare opportunity to do all those things you never have time to do - clean the house, cook a healthy meal, fix that broken table, learn something new. If you’re self-isolating with other people, perhaps you could teach each other a new skill or language.

Reach out

“Reach out to your usual supports – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Sharing how we feel and offering support to others is important,” reads the government’s website. The government also advises us to check-in on any elderly or vulnerable people and look after anyone that needs help. These kinds of connections and offers of help will go a long way to getting ourselves and others through COVID-19.

Lastly, if you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with grief, anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.  


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