Tips for maintaining mental health through COVID-19 (Part 3)

The escalating COVID-19 virus situation is leading to natural increases in stress, worry and anxiety in many people. The uncertainty associated with COVID-19, the disruption to usual routines, the need for working from home or self-isolating can have significant impacts on your wellbeing and mental health. If you or people close to you fall into a high-risk category, then your anxiety and mental health may be particularly impacted.

The Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences has provided some basic tips on managing your mental health and wellbeing during this difficult time and how to manage working from home or self-isolation.

Managing relationships with partners

  • Collaborate on a plan for your routines – ensuring equal times for working and child minding/solitary time/social time/exercise time
  • Ensure you have together time, but also individual time, and time for each of you to connect with individual friends
  • Ideally, if your living space allows, have separate retreat spaces for these solitary times
  • Rework your balance and division of labour so one person isn’t carrying the heavy domestic load which could lead to resentment
  • Lower your expectations of each other and recognise that this is a stressful time
  • Don’t judge your relationship by what is happening in this stressful time
  • Avoid making big life decisions
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs if this escalates problems
  • Together identify different stress or conflict points and work out a strategy to reduce conflict and tension ahead of time
  • Set aside times for fun and unwinding together
  • Have gentle communication and avoid blame

Managing kids

  • If kids are feeling anxious or asking questions about COVID-19, answer them honestly and in an age-appropriate way, remind them they are safe
  • Limit kid’s exposure to COVID-19 media saturation
  • Set up home schooling with a regular routine
  • Make sure to build in exercise, time for them to socialise online with friends, fun activities and outdoor time
  • Set clear boundaries around your workspace if possible

Managing health anxiety

  • Try to avoid self-diagnosis via internet
  • Catch worry thoughts and ask yourself if you are thinking of the worst-case scenario and practise stepping away from these thoughts
  • Practice relaxation and mindfulness
  • Implement health protection recommendations and remind yourself you are doing what you can to protect yourself
  • Seek professional support via online or telehealth from psychologists if necessary

Managing financial stress

  • Practice the stress management and anxiety management strategies above
  • Take action to help mitigate circumstances such as seeking rent or mortgage assistance or other government assistance. Remind yourself you have done what you can
  • Speak with a financial counsellor

Useful Online Tools

Mindfulness: Insight Timer App
Depression/anxiety: Mind Gym, Beyond Blue
Crisis: Lifeline, SANE Australia
Kids anxiety: BRAVE Online
Domestic violence: RESPECT helpline

Telehealth consults with GPs and psychologists are now available.

As always, for the latest COVID-19 news from the University, visit www.unimelb.edu.au/coronavirus.

Part 1

Part 2