Getting your head back on track
We all know that keeping physically healthy goes along way to keeping mentally healthy but it takes more than just exercise to make you feel good.
A great starting point is to make some space in your brain so you can see things more clearly. Maybe try a little mindfulness to help regain a sense of calm? Doing this can help you put things in perspective. Think about what is important to you, who you want to spend your time with and how you want to move forward from here. But most importantly, be kind to yourself and give yourself time to adjust. Read the tips below to learn more and click on the buttons to open bonus content on understanding and managing stress.
“When we had to do physical distancing and my kids were at home all the time my fitness and routine fell by the wayside. Now I just can’t get back on track. It’s a vicious cycle and Its only me that can break it"
Okay, so it’s nothing new but it’s always good to have reason to overhaul your eating and exercise habits.
Keeping physically healthy goes along way to keeping mentally healthy. Closure of gyms and group classes may have stopped you from getting that exercise fix for a while but now restrictions have eased there should be nothing to stop you getting back on the treadmill. Not as easy as it sounds, and if you are struggling to get motivated because of a lack of routine then you aren’t alone. Once you do get back into the routine of exercising you will feel the benefits in no time. Go get those endorphins pumping!
Working from home challenges
Working from home and feel like you never leave your house? Its easy to get stuck in a rut with working from home. There is no real need to leave if you have food in the cupboard and technology to link you up to your colleagues. But this is not a healthy routine and can lead to feeling isolated and low mood. Getting fresh air and a change of scenery will go along way to helping your productivity and get your blood pumping. Win win.
Routine routine routine
Create a daily routine for working from home. This might include setting morning tasks, scheduled breaks, and a consistent, end-of-day knock-off time. For more tips, read this Working From Home tip sheet.
For other ideas or concerns around working from home have a look at the Beyond Blue Website here.
Exercise your way, on your terms
Now more than ever getting fit and healthy is at the tip of your fingers. You don’t need any money, transport, equipment or even childcare. Kick start your routine today and join the online exercise revolution. Here are a few to get you started?
Walking is also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety, stay fit and boost our immune system so we’re less susceptible to infections
Check in on your alcohol intake
Something else that is easier than ever to access with home deliveries and click and collect. Stresses of life make us reach for a relaxing drink at the end of the day. When those stresses increase and there seems like no let up it is easy to find yourself enjoying a drink more often. For further reading have a look at Beyond Blue
“ I find it hard to sleep because I have too much going round my head”
Make some space
Practicing mindfulness or meditation is just another way of quietening all the noise from both the outside world and your own mind. Less stress and clearer thoughts may be yours for the taking.
What's the difference between meditation and mindfulness? “Meditation is a practice, or training, that leads to healthy and positive mindsets. Mindfulness is a skill that is built as a result.” In short, meditation is doing the workout, mindfulness is the result.
Let’s not get caught up on the words here. The act of taking time to listen to your own thoughts is a powerful skill.
Get mindful now
Not a believer? Have a listen to the long-term benefits of mindfulness and meditation here.
You already made the time to read this information so why not give yourself another 5 minutes and do a quick mindfulness exercise. That’s all it takes… and practice. You won’t reach total enlightenment straight away but improved focus and better sleep will do for now. Right?
Find what works for you
Mindful.org gives a range of different approaches to mindfulness and meditation so you can find one that works for you- walking meditation, guided podcasts, or helping wind down for sleep. Get started here
Like using your hands. Doing a Mindful colouring exercise could be something that works for you. In the same way as focusing on your breath, choosing a colour and filling in a picture brings you into the present. This is something that also works well for children and is an activity that you could together for a regular quiet time in the day. There are lots of free images available to download and print off to do at home.
Family films with mindful messages
Other activities to help make mindfulness more appealing are watching films like Kung Fu Panda, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Star Wars. They feature characters that gain power—as well as peace of mind—through meditation.You could watch these films with your kids and talk about it after to help them learn about the benefits of mindfulness from a young age.
“I feel out of the loop. Everyone just seems to be keeping themselves to themselves”
Physical distancing not social distancing
We talk about social distancing but what it should be is physical distancing. It is important that we amp up the social connections.
Staying connected with your extended family and friends is an important part of maintaining your well-being and staying positive during physical distancing. But it can be hard to stay in touch with people when you can't visit or your're not catching up at sport, church, school pick-ups, family barbecues and so on.
Connect through technology
Make the most of using technology to stay in touch and keep your relationships going. Out of sight doesn’t have to mean out of mind. Video call and group chat is a way of keeping conversations flowing without the face to face meet up. There are also interactive games you can play when conversation isn’t what you need. Check out the App Words with Friends or House Party Charades.
Be wary though. Technology is a great tool but it can have the opposite effect, making you feel like you are missing out when it appears that others are doing more than you. Don’t rely on social media as your connection to the outside world. Remember it is not a true reflection of what is happening in people's lives. Call or message your friends and family directly for authentic and meaningful contact.
Get tech savvy
If you have never used Facetime, Whatsapp or Houseparty then now is the time to learn more and use what works for you. A great resource to check out to remind you of cyber safety is www.esafety.gov.au.
Here are few 'how to' guides:
Foster new connections and broaden your network
Social connectedness can come from different groups of people not just close friends and family. Interest and exercise communities can give you a group to belong to and foster new friendships. Most social and wellbeing organisations have adapted and offer meet ups, classes and workshops online. Whilst this doesn’t give you the in person experience you can maintain your interests or create new ones. Have a look at interest groups such as:
For those people who have few family members around it can be hard. In difficult times we lean on our family and if they aren’t there to help or be a listening ear you might feel like you are out there alone. Organisations such as www.FindaGrandparent.org.au are creating connections between families and Grandparents who want to be part of peoples lives and create meaningful relationships for the long term.
Social anxiety post-Covid
Emerging into the world after social isolation or even physical distancing can feel strange and create anxiety for some around social interactions. If this affects your ability to interact then have a look at these resources.
“Every time I go online there is talk of months of restrictions ahead of us and more and more spikes. I just feel a bit helpless about it all.”
Be informed but not overwhelmed
Media coverage and news updates about Covid are impossible to avoid. Being informed about what is happening is useful but reading too much news can be unhealthy and lead you to feel overwhelmed and create feelings of helplessness. Some news is designed to trigger panic and catastrophise situations for a bigger impact so its best to stick to trusted sources to keep you up to date.
Manage your media
Have a look at this link to give you some strategies on the SIFT technique which can help you to manage your media exposure.
Social media is great for connections but having a constant stream of news can feel a bit too much. Covid pandemic aside, social media and mental health have been having an ongoing battle for a number of years. For strategies to help you or your loved ones manage their social media and its impact on their mental health try a free online webinar;
Manage your mindset
Looking after your mental health is important. Its helpful to check in with your own emotions. When you read the news try to keep a calm and relaxed outlook and maintain perspective. While it is reasonable for people to be concerned about the outbreak of coronavirus, try to remember that medical, scientific and public health experts around the world are working hard to contain the virus, treat those affected and develop a vaccine as quickly as possible.
You can do your part by following the advice given by the government to practice good hygiene.
If you are feeling overwhelmed then you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14 at any time for a chat and it may help to regain some perspective or just feel heard.
“I try to be the rock for my wife and kids, paint a brave face on it, but inside I feel sick.”
It's OK to not be OK
Life is difficult enough right now so don’t try to be a hero and go it alone.
It can help to reach out and talk to your friends or family about how you are feeling. You are not alone in this, despite feeling that way. If you are open and honest then you won’t carry the burden alone and that is one less weight on your shoulders. Once it is all out on the table you can start to work toward making it better, together and there are plenty of supports and services out there to help. Its just a matter of finding what you need which can be a daunting task in itself.
Let us take the mystery out of it for you….
If you are worried about finances, then have a look at our financial tips to direct you to information that will get you back on track. We let you in on the finance jargon and know who to talk to help.
If you feel like you need to talk to someone about feeling overwhelmed or stressed but worry about feeling judged then you contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 any time of the day or night or Beyond Blue on 1800 512 348 and talk anonymously to someone who can listen. Use your time to talk about whatever is important for you, this is a conversation on your terms.
Not a phone person? Both organisations also offer online chat and forums so you can talk and share with others to find out what they are doing to cope with the stresses of Covid.
Warning Signs when things are getting too much
Sometimes you just can’t put your finger on what it is but you just feel a bit off. Try to listen to your gut and don’t ignore the warning signs if you start to feel a little overwhelmed.
Don’t know what the warning signs are?
changes in mood
lack of appetite
feelings of tiredness and fatigue….sounding familiar?
If you have been feeling this way for a while it may be time to seek professional support. You can use this self-assessment to help you understand more about how you are feeling.
There is also free counselling available for people through Helping Minds. Free call 1800 811 747 between 8.30am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. Appointments for phone and video counselling are available from 7am to 7pm.
Or you if you have a GP you see regularly who you feel comfortable with you could try talking to them.