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Supporting you through COVID-19

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has affected people all over the world. It’s no wonder many of us are feeling anxious, worried, or overwhelmed, not only by the threat of the virus itself but the constant news coverage, economical impacts, and even panic occurring in some places. For many of us, the pandemic has meant significant changes for our everyday lives, including not being able to go to work, being told to stay indoors and avoid seeing our family and friends, cancelled travel plans, and more. During this unprecedented time, we’re doing everything we can to keep you supported and to help you manage your wellbeing – both mentally and physically. We’ve put together this guide, which contains some key strategies to help you maintain your wellbeing and look after those you care about through difficult times like these.

Social distancing is one of the most important strategies that we can all take part in, to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. However, for those of you struggling to cope with the added stress and anxiety that these events can stir up, keeping up your sessions with your therapist is more important than ever. That is why we’re are working with our clients via virtual sessions over Skype and Zoom. Whether you’re already a client of ours at Integrated Health Specialists or are feeling overwhelmed and in need of support, get in touch today, and we will organise a virtual session for you.

Staying informed during the COVID-19 crisis is important, and you should be aware of the latest news about what you can do to reduce the spread and stay safe. However, the continually rolling news of deaths and rising infections can become overwhelming and lead to heightened stress, anxiety and distress. Be sure to be selective with your news sources, as the spread of false information is rife at this time, especially through mainstream media! Also, manage your intake of news by setting some limits around how much you consume. For example, you might limit yourself to watching one news program per day or just reading the highlights on your trusted news source. Here is the official government website you might like to consult to keep up to date with guidelines and assistance:  Australian Government coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert

Keeping in touch with family and friends during this time is more important than ever, especially if you have older or unwell loved ones who might be finding it hard to cope right now. A simple call or text message to keep in touch and check-in can help both you and your loved ones feel less distressed. For those loved ones who might have difficulty leaving the house to shop for groceries or medical needs, dropping around and leaving some supplies at a safe distance can be a big help. Keeping in touch will also help you to manage your anxiety and gain perspective, as you see that everyone else is going through this with you and you’re not alone.

One of the interesting phenomena to come about because of the outbreak of COVID-19 is the ‘virtual house party’ trend. Using various apps, including House Party, Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger and more, people are catching up with friends and family for much-needed get-togethers, virtually. If you have a weekly dinner catch up with friends, why not try hosting your dinner over one of these apps? If you’re unable to see your significant other or someone you’re dating during this time, why not order each other some dinner from a local delivery app and eat together over a FaceTime video call? You can have a glass of wine with friends on a Friday night, join in on your usual Sunday lunch with family, or catch up with friends from across the globe for a chat, all over a video or phone call! Staying social doesn’t need to be impossible during this time thankfully because of the technology now available to us, and it can be a big help with managing stress and anxiety and help you to feel connected.

One of the most significant disruptions the COVID-19 crisis has caused is a disruption to our regular routines. Whilst staying at home and not going to work might at first be a novelty, it can quickly affect our mental health and lead to feelings of anxiety, isolation, stress, and even panic. If you’re already prone to these kinds of feelings, the current crisis can exacerbate them, which is why creating a daily routine is so important. Having a routine can help you to feel more in control of your life, and can restore some normalcy. If you’re working from home, try getting up and getting dressed for work as normal (although you might like to keep it casual and comfortable), set yourself a lunch break, take regular breaks to have a walk around the house or outside in the yard, and finish at a set time each day. If you’re not working during this time, setting times for certain activities can still be very helpful. Try setting your alarm to get up at a specific time and make yourself some breakfast. Then you might like to check in with family and friends for an hour or two, before getting in some exercise. Then, set yourself some time for lunch, and maybe schedule in a virtual catch-up with a loved one for the evening. Going to bed at a set time each night can also help to maintain regular sleep patterns and ensure you get a good night’s rest.

If you’re used to going to the gym, yoga, playing sport, or seeing a personal trainer to maintain your health and fitness, you might find yourself at a loss right now. But being stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t work out. It just means getting a bit creative. There are loads of videos online showing some simple at-home workouts that you can do with very little equipment. You could even create a virtual fitness class and attend via Skype with friends. Keeping fit is not only important for your physical health at this time, but can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health.

One of the most important things to do at a time like this is to maintain perspective and don’t be too hard on yourself. Now is not the time to be hard on yourself about what you’re eating or how much exercise you’re getting. It’s not the time to beat yourself up about not being productive enough. Although being mindful of your health, what you’re eating, and how much exercise you’re getting can help you to manage your wellbeing, sometimes, the best self-care is simply to give yourself a break and take it easy. If you’re suddenly having to home-school your children, keep in mind that you’re not a teacher. You may not be able to offer your kids the same level of teaching that their highly trained and qualified teachers will. Trying to do so can just add to the levels of stress for your whole household, including the kids. Instead, try to make things fun, and explore learning in ways that the kids find interesting (watching documentaries that they enjoy, doing arts and crafts, cooking together, creating fun exercise routines together, etc.). It’s really important to remember that none of us have been through this before, and it’s a learning curve for everyone. You don’t need to be superhuman right now. The most important thing you can do is to take care of yourself and those you love.

Finally, use this time as a real opportunity to work on your mind-set; instead of worrying about all of the ‘bad things’ relating to this virus, work on changing your perspective and see the blessings within this.  Practice asking better questions, like “How can I use this time to achieve things that I never have time to do?” Perhaps a great opportunity to complete those projects in the house or the garden, plan some great creative projects, enjoy quality time with the kids or your partner, do some study. But most importantly use this time to work on your relationship with yourself, re-connect with your needs and revisit your priorities in life, meditate, and take some time-out guilt-free!

For some extra support to maintain your wellbeing during the COVID-19 crisis, reach out to Integrated Health Specialists. We’re here to support you.

Michelle van Namen
Author: Michelle van Namen