How to take care of your mental health in Lockdown
Alright, lockdown number four, here it is. You could be forgiven for thinking we were past this type of thing, it certainly seemed to be the general mood, but as it turns out … not quite.
Short or long, lockdowns can be hard on people generally, however for many they can go beyond being simply annoying and trigger substantial amounts of fear, anxiety, frustration and anger. This time round, such feelings may be particularly prominent if you’re a small business owner, as this will be the first lockdown we’ve faced without the assistance of jobkeeper, and, even though assistance for businesses will be announced by the state government in the coming days, it is as yet unclear about what this support will look like.
Under the circumstances it is understandable if you are feeling anxious, angry or overwhelmed; many people feel this way when faced with uncertainty and adverse circumstances, and are almost certainly a lot of business owners feeling the same way as we all await the details of the business support plan.
However, although it is completely understandable to be stressed and overwhelmed at the moment, it is really important to have some ways of turning down, and managing your worry and anxiety, because, as we all know, high levels of prolonged stress are not healthy.
So, with that in mind, here are a few strategies that can help with managing your mental health over the lockdown period.
Take Care of your Physical Health
Your mind lives in your brain, and your brain lives in your body, so it makes sense that there is a strong link between good mental health and good physical health. As tempting as it may be to stock the pantry with comfort foods, order takeaway every night, and stay up til the wee hours of the morning binging TV, eating well, exercising and getting plenty of good quality sleep is going to help you to feel well both physically and mentally.
Practice Mindfulness, Meditation or Breathing exercises
Calm the farm! Racing thoughts, tense muscles, and stomach upsets are some of the common ways your body will react to being in a state of heightened stress. When your body is in this state it is unlikely that you will be able to think calmly about the challenges facing you. Mindfulness, meditation and breathing exercises are all techniques that will help you to calm down your body and give it a break from the physical sensations of stress and anxiety. This in turn will help you to slow your thoughts and make it easier to navigate challenges.
These exercises do not need to be long or complicated, in fact a 2-5 minute meditation or breathing exercise a couple of times a day will likely make a huge difference and Apps like Calm, Headspace or Headgear are great tools to use if you need a little guidance to get started.
Log Off and Tune In
Staying up to date is one thing, but doom scrolling (scrolling through social media or news sites for hours on end) is not helpful and is more likely to heighten your anxiety than assuage it. Scrolling through sites trying to find information about what is going to happen next will likely feed into anticipatory anxiety.
Take control by scheduling specific times of day that you will check the news or scroll through social media and make it a personal goal to stick to that schedule.
Likewise, schedule time that you plan to step away from your computer, phone or TV to tune into something else that is important to you without distraction, be that the kids, a partner, a friend or family member, a pet, nature or a good book. If you’re finding it difficult to tune into something around you, try setting a little goal to promote your focus, like making your kids or partner laugh or smile, reading up to a certain page number or walking a particular distance.
It’s Ok if you’re not Ok
Every person in Victoria is currently in lockdown. Everyone is in a different set of circumstances and has a different level of health and personal wellbeing. If you are not ok and are struggling with ongoing symptoms of poor mental health or are worried that things could be headed that way, reach out for help, you deserve support and no-one should struggle alone.
The Partners in Wellbeing, Small Business Wellbeing Program is for business owners, their staff and their family members to access and can include psychosocial support, financial counselling and business advisory services depending on what your current needs are.
If you are a member of the Geelong Chamber of Commerce you can reach out to myself at Tenille.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow this link to book an appointment using the online portal: https://www.geelongchamber.com.au/wellbeing/
Alternatively you are able to contact the general psychosocial support line on 1300 375 330.
The services below are also available and provide short-term, advice and support, but do not offer long-term, professional support services, seeking long-term help by speaking to your GP may still be advisable.
Lifeline – 13 11 14 – A national charity providing all Australians experiencing emotional distress with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Beyond Blue has a 24-hour helpline that will link you to a trained mental health professional who can chat to you about your concerns. Contact them on 1300 22 4636.
1800RESPECT offers a 24-7 counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault or family violence.
Headspace offers free online and telephone support services to young people aged 12-25. Call them on 1800 650 890.
MensLine Australia is a telephone and online support service for men. Contact them on 1300 78 99 78.
QLife is a national counselling and referral service tailored to LGBTQI people. It’s available between 3pm and 12am. Contact them on 1800 184 527.
This article was written by our mental health clinician/consultant Tenille Clark.
To learn more about our wellbeing program, please head here.