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Protect your mental health during the Coronavirus outbreak

When things feel uncertain it can cause us to not feel safe, this is a normal reaction to stress. A large proportion of anxiety is caused by a feeling of not being in control of what is happening. We may feel helpless or afraid and our mental health can suffer. You may feel on edge, angry, helpless or sad, or cycle between these emotions. For those already struggling with mental well being, you may feel more depressed or less motivated than usual.

It is important to take care of our mental health especially in times of uncertainty, and to also protect our immune system. Did you know that stress impacts not only our mental health, but can also lower our immunity to illness? The mind and body are intricately connected and one can affect the other.

Here are some things you can do to help you take back some control in the face of uncertainty.

Make a list of what you CAN control. Some examples are:

  1. Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water. Sing the happy birthday song twice in your mind as this takes approximately 20 seconds to do, and is the recommended length of time to kill germs and viruses.
  2. Limit your consumption of news (Do you really need to know what's happening on a cruise ship you are not even on?)
  3. Wash yourself, your clothes and towels more frequently, and wipe down surfaces more often.
  4. Use a hand sanitizer when soap and water is not available.
  5. Eat nutritious rich food and drink plenty of water.
  6. Take prescribed medication as directed and vitamin supplements (if your doctor states it’s safe for you to do so with your medication.)
  7. Share this information with friends and family to help them with their mental health and well-being.
  8. Self isolate if needed or if it gives you a sense of safety based on potential sickness, however, be mindful you are not self isolating due to depression.
  9. Go outside in nature even if you are avoiding crowds. The sunshine and the dose of vitamin D is good for our well-being.
  10. Exercise is an excellent activity to help both physical and mental health.
  11. Practice mindfulness as a lot of worries and fears are future based and fuelled by “what ifs.” If you catch yourself worrying about something that hasn't happened, gently bring yourself back into the present moment, you can do this by using your senses. Notice what you see, perhaps count everything you see of a specific colour? Listen to the sounds around you externally and internally, maybe you can hear your breathing or your heart beat? What aromas or smells are in the air? What textures can you feel in your immediate surroundings, or what sensations can you feel in your body? If you are eating or drinking how does it taste? Mindfulness practices can help you remain grounded in times of ambiguity and uncertainty.
  12. Reach out to friends and family for support and help, and talk to someone you trust to share how you feel. It is important to stay connected especially if self isolating, pick up the phone, video call, whatever method of contact that suits you. If you find you are struggling with your mental health, its OK to reach out to a mental health practitioner for support. You don’t have to feel alone.

Who can I contact?

We are all in this together.

Jenny & Michael