During these uncertain times, everyone is feeling extra pressure and stress.
Whether you’re worried about your health or the economy, struggling with the change in routine, or feeling isolated and disconnected, it’s an unnerving situation that we’re all facing. Below are a few tips and techniques that can help to ease anxiety and boost your mood in the coming weeks and months.
Tip 1: Limit media exposure
To avoid alarmist headlines and unverified information or rumours, choose a few trusted and credible sources to get your information. With information coming at us from all directions, it’s overwhelming. Being constantly exposed to negative or confusing messages can put you in a heightened state of stress and anxiety. At the same time, we need to stay informed and up to date on the present situation.
Below are some verified sources that provide updates regularly:
Tip 2: Connect (from a safe distance)
We might need to stay metres apart but that doesn’t mean we have to feel disconnected. Social connection is one of the most important factors for maintaining general wellbeing and reducing the risk of psychological distress, anxiety and depression (1). Finding creative ways to socially connect and support one another will make a big difference to your mental health in the weeks or months ahead. To encourage staff to connect despite physical distance, it could be worth setting up a separate chat group designated to social chats, sharing funny memes or feelgood news stories.
And even if you’re working from home, consider scheduling a coffee or lunch break with a colleague – just do it via video call!
Tip 3: Keep moving
Exercise is one of the best ways to boost your mood, improve productivity and release extra nervous tension. Even if you’re in self-isolation, do your best to get moving in whatever way you can. One of the most effective forms of exercise for easing the symptoms of depression and anxiety is high-intensity interval training (HIIT) (2). There are lots of apps that can help you stick to a routine and some of them encourage workouts of only 7 minutes so it’s hard to say no! With so many of us working from home, it’s a great way to break up the day and refresh your mind.
Tip 4: Find some time (and space) to yourself
In normal day to day life, most of us are out and about, in the workplace, interacting many different people. Suddenly we are confined to our houses most of the time. For those who live with family, it can feel impossible to get any time alone. For many people, alone time is essential for their mental wellbeing. Whatever way you can, make sure you get some time just to yourself to decompress, zone out and relax.
Put on some noise-cancelling headphones and listen to some relaxing music, lock yourself in the bathroom and take a long bath, or go for a walk on your own (if you’re not strictly self-isolating).
Tip 5: Maintain a routine
Structure and routine can help combat anxiety and increase momentum and motivation, especially at a time when there is so much uncertainty around us. Go to bed and get up at roughly the same time every day, shower, brush your hair, and eat regular meals. If you’re working from home, create boundaries. Take breaks and keep regular hours when you’re in work-mode versus downtime or family-mode. If you are working less hours at the moment and have more time on your hands, find other activities you enjoy, to keep you occupied and get a sense of daily achievement.
At times like this, it can be helpful to remember you are not alone.
Remember, we are all in this together.All around the world, there are people just like you and me watching the same events unfold. Most of your colleagues and friends are in the same boat, struggling to adjust to these sudden changes in routine. This is an opportunity to feel connected with your colleagues and neighbours. Reach out to co-workers with any concerns and be patient with each other as we navigate this strange time.
Professional Support is available
Don’t forget, professional support is available should you need it. We offer sessions with professional counsellors and psychologists via phone and online if face-to-face is not possible. We also offer a range of special COVID-19 programs to promote resilience and support wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic.
1. Williams, K. L., & Galliher, R. V. (2006). Predicting depression and self-esteem from social connectedness, support, and competence. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 25(8), 855-874. doi:http://dx.doi.org.ezproxy.une.edu.au/10.1521/jscp.2006.25.8.855
2. Heggelund, J., Kleppe, K. D., Morken, G., & Vedul-Kjelsås, E. (2014). High aerobic intensity training and psychological states in patients with depression or schizophrenia. Frontiers in psychiatry, 5, 148. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2014.00148/full