THE community is experiencing upheaval during the COVID-19 pandemic: people are isolated from family and friends, and many are without jobs and facing an uncertain future.
With the recent increase in positive test results, people are concerned about contracting COVID-19 and what happens if they do.
This can cause anxiety that impacts on mental health and wellbeing, with people experiencing a range of emotions such as stress, worry, boredom or low mood as a result.
At Phillip Island Health Hub’s Urgent Care Centre, staff have reported an increase in the number of patients presenting with anxiety related to COVID-19.
Bass Coast Health (BCH) team coordinator of counselling, Cara Hammond, is reminding people experiencing anxiety they are not alone and there are ways they can relax.
“My motto is ‘water, fresh air, sunshine and wriggle your toes in the grass – connecting with the environment’,” she said.
“Get some sunshine on your face and listen to nature – rain, the birds, wind, the ocean, whatever is nearby.
“Exercise is important and so is eating healthy meals.”
Ms Hammond suggested trying activities you have not tried before and turning to YouTube for tips.
“There’s even the TV show ‘Aerobics Oz Style’ now on 10 Play. It’s just about finding what interests you,” she said.
Initially, the public’s phone calls to BCH’s counselling team related to anxiety about COVID-19, but now people are concerned about society returning to normal too soon and risking a second wave of COVID-19 infections.
“We have to remind ourselves that it’s normal to be concerned and stressed. There is so much uncertainty because we do not have an end date.”
To book counselling with Bass Coast Health, phone the Access Team on 5671 3175. Alternatively, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
You can also find the booklet, ‘Bass Coast & South Gippsland Shires COVID-19 Supports Available’ on the South Coast Primary and Community Partnership website.
Tips for staying mentally healthy
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle:
- Have a daily routine. Plan activities that are fun (such as reading, watching movies and hobbies) and give you a sense of achievement (such as cleaning, completing work tasks, learning a new skill).
- Stay active – create an exercise routine that can be done at home to maintain physical fitness and reduce stress.
- Eat well – plan and eat nutritious meals.
- Stay connected with friends and family via phone, chat, email or video conferencing.
- Stay informed. Information from trusted sources can help you determine reasonable precautions to take to maintain your health.
- Stay positive. Remember this time will pass. What you say to yourself is important.
- Challenge your negative thoughts by asking yourself what evidence you have that you ‘can’t cope’? Whenever you recognise a negative thought, balance it with a realistic thought.
- Access support if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
- A good antidote to stress and worry is to get active and organised. If you are worried about something, do something. Make plans and write your list of what you need to organise and do it.
- Remember who you are and your values. Stressful times can make it challenging to act in the way that is aligned with our values. Be gentle, kind, and respectful to yourself and to others.
- Remember, things will return to normal. In addition to maintaining long-term goals, think about things you will do each day and week, which you enjoy.
Source: The Federal Government website Head to Health.