The Experts On How To Take Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

The Experts On How To Take Care of Your Mental Health During COVID-19

These unprecedented times have been...a lot. Joel’s been feeling it too. That’s why he asked two leaders in youth mental health from ReachOut and headspace about what he and other young people can do to manage stress, anxiety, isolation and all the uncertainty.

This story contains themes of anxiety and mental ill-health. If these subjects raise any concerns for you, please contact the relevant support services listed here

The coronavirus pandemic can sometimes be overwhelming and challenging to deal with. I mean, it’s literally changed almost every aspect of everyday life. However, it can be difficult to know how to look after your own mental health during this outbreak. Well, I’ve certainly felt this way, so I asked ReachOut’s CEO Ashley de Silva and headspace’s National Clinical Advisor Nick Duigan about this big topic. Here are their responses to my burning questions.

1. What can I do if I’m finding the news about the coronavirus overwhelming and difficult to deal with?

Ashely said, “It’s normal to feel overwhelmed right now, especially when we are constantly getting updates about the coronavirus from the news and social media.” He suggested that you could try taking regular breaks from looking at this info, even if it’s just for one hour a day.

He also said, “When you are taking a break from news or having some downtime, consider how you would like to use that time in a positive way.” Ashely recommended doing something that doesn’t involve any screens. 


2. I’m experiencing a higher level of anxiety at the moment. How can I look after my mental health and manage these feelings?

Nick outlined a bunch of strategies that could help you if you’re feeling anxious. He said, “Practicing self-care can be a good place to start…Try to eat well, get enough sleep, and stay active.” He also advised young people to talk about how they’re feeling with someone they trust and to limit their use of alcohol and other drugs.

Learning some breathing strategies could also limit your anxiety in these environments. If you want to start trying these techniques, Nick recommended ReachOut’s Breathe app. 

Additionally, Nick said to be aware of avoidance.

“It’s normal to want to avoid situations that make you feel anxious. It might work in the short-term, but over time it can make your anxiety feel worse. This is because you don’t get the opportunity to learn that you can cope.”

He added that helpful self-talk and relaxation can help you realise it’s possible to manage anxious situations.

It’s worth noticing the thoughts that influence your anxiety. Nick said, “This can help you to handle them differently and learn new ways to cope if you’re feeling overwhelmed.”

3. During this pandemic, I sometimes find it emotionally taxing to learn that some individuals are hoarding supplies or ignoring the rules. How can I process my feelings about these people in a healthy and constructive way?

“It’s ok to feel angry, upset and confused when we see others not doing their best to look after themselves and their community,” said Ashely. “However we also need to focus on what’s within our control.”

Ashley said it’s important to remember that we don’t always have all of the information about other people’s actions. He said, “When we focus on these negatives too much it can have an impact on our wellbeing.” Instead of concentrating on this info, Ashley suggested focusing on the positive steps you’re taking to stop the coronavirus spread. 

4. What can I do to look after my mental health during this time of isolation?

Nick knows that staying connected can help you create and maintain a healthy headspace during this challenging time. He said, “While we can’t physically connect with friends and loved ones, there are so many other ways to stay connected online.” He also advised that you video chat or call your friends and family often.

Nick also said you can still get the most out of life. “It’s tough at the moment to get outside and do the things you love, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get stuck into some new hobbies you’ve maybe had on ice.”

Or, explore some new skills. Nick said that you could use this time to try journaling your thoughts and feelings. If you’d like some additional info about this advice, check out the organisation’s tips for a healthy headspace.


5. I’m sometimes stressed because I don’t know when this crisis will end. What can I do to cope with this uncertainty?

“Uncertainty can be very stressful to deal with. We don’t know how long we will have to do things like staying at home and physical distancing,” said Ashley.

He suggested creating a temporary routine so that your day-to-day life feels more normal. Ashely stated that this could be something as simple as waking up at the same time each day. “You might also think about reframing your goals at this time,” Ashely noted. 

“Thinking about just the week ahead and what you want to achieve could be a good start rather than worrying about unknowns in the future.”

6. Who should I talk to if I feel like the coronavirus pandemic is making me spiral?

“It can help to talk with a trusted adult if it all feels a bit much,” said Nick. 

“Visit the headspace homepage for details on all the different ways headspace can support you online, such as the spaces group chat held which is from 6-10 pm every weeknight.” This group chat focuses on providing general coping skills and encouraging social connectedness online as a way to cope with the impacts of physical distancing.

Ashley offered this: 
“Digital services like ReachOut are a great place to start if young people are worried about their mental health.”. At young people will find articles, tips and ideas about how to look after their mental health right now. They can also connect with other young people who might be going through similar experiences in our peer support forums.”

So there you have it, folks! You now know some steps that could help you look after your mental health during this time. Please stay safe, take care of yourself, and remember that you’re not alone.

This story contains themes of anxiety and mental ill-health. If these subjects raise any concerns for you, please contact the relevant support services listed here