Bushfires, Floods, COVID-19… and Mental Health

Mental health is affected by nature, nurture, life experiences, and the times in which we live, and it has been this latter category of influence on mental health that we have really noticed and reflected upon over the past several weeks.

From fires to floods, to climate change controversy, to COVID-19, and so on – we as a community have been challenged and it’s natural to have a wide range of thoughts, feelings and reactions to these issues. Common themes have been anxiety and worry, difficulty concentrating and sleeping, anger, hyper-vigilance to health and body (in the case of COVID-19), feeling helpless, social withdrawal, and other struggles.

We encourage anyone struggling to reach out and seek help.

Our Resources tab also contains a number of useful telephone numbers and links.

Some tips for supporting emotional well-being include:

  • Maintain your routines as much as possible.
  • Try not to isolate yourself. Human beings thrive on connection with others. Social distancing makes this difficult, but telephone/skype/facetime etc technology can be the next best thing!
  • Sleep and get adequate rest and relaxation – it’s good for your immune system.
  • Eat healthy food.
  • Breathe…watch your belly rise and fall. Stretch out the face and body – consciously letting go of tension.
  • Be mindful of consuming alcohol, sugar or caffeine.
  • Be mindful of too much stimulation or too much exposure to unsettling news stories. Get news only from reliable sources and try not to continuously check for updated information throughout the day (once or twice per day is probably enough to stay updated). Also, setting time limits around exposure to coverage is recommended. Becoming absorbed in the coverage for long periods of time may be unsettling.
  • Spend time in nature. Breathe it in. Engage all 5-sense in the experience of being in nature.
  • Exercise: It’s calming, a great natural mood enhancer, and may boost immunity. Yoga is a fantastic choice! There are plenty of YouTube options and apps for exercising at home.
  • Take breaks. Play a game. Watch a movie.
  • Try a meditation or relaxation exercise.