To help control the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) across the Australian and global community, all Australians have been asked to practise social distancing. Some people are required to, or may choose to self-isolate. Understandably the challenges associated with social distancing and self-isolation, include separation from loved ones, loss of freedom and reduced income, are leading some people to experience feelings of anxiety, boredom, frustration and fear.
Maintaining good positive mental health is one of the keys to staying emotionally strong during social isolation. There are several useful strategies which can help both adults and children maintain positive mental health whilst in a period of social isolation. The below tips come from the Australian Psychological Society:
- Remind yourself that this period of self-isolation is temporary thinking of the benefits of self-isolation to the wider society, including slowing the spread of the virus and protecting those most vulnerable in your community.
- Positive social connections are essential for our mental health and can help us cope in times of stress. In the current time, we are being asked to distance ourselves from others so it is important that we maintain our social networks using available methods of communication. This can be as simple as phoning a friend to share your experience, using videoconferencing technology to check in with a family member, or spending quality time with the people you live with.
- At times, people will be required to self-isolate with others in their household. While this will provide opportunities for social connections, living with someone 24/7 with little or no time away from each other may give rise to arguments and/or tension. There are a number of things you can do to limit conflict with those you are isolated with, including:
- · creating a roster to help you distribute chores equally and fairly
- · identifying and taking part in activities you like doing together such as movies, board games, jigsaws, gardening
- · sharing positive emotions and experiences, rather than anger, frustration and disappointment
- · communicating about your worries and concerns, and seeking support from one another
- · maintaining your sense of fun and positive humour
- · remaining respectful of each other in times of conflict – walk away and take time to calm yourselves, returning to the discussion later and repairing any hurt caused
- · Change out of your pyjamas each morning – While you don’t have to dress as formally as you might when going into the office, getting out of your pyjamas can help you get in the right headspace to start your day.
- · Set up a dedicated workspace – Choose a space away from noise and with adequate lighting to set up your work desk. If possible, use an adjustable desk chair so you can work comfortably.
- · Set a strict schedule – It can be hard to switch-off from work, so it is important to clearly define your working hours, ensuring you have regular breaks. Disconnect from all work-related accounts (e.g., remote desktops, email) at the end of your working day to help maintain a clear boundary between your work and home life.
- · Limit distractions – Being at home can mean you can be easily distracted by other people or tasks (e.g., household chores). Schedule set times where you can take a break from work to complete these tasks, rather than completing them randomly throughout the day where you can lose track of time.
- · Keep in touch – Maintain regular contact with your manager/ colleagues (via phone, email or videoconferencing) to ensure you are each aware of your tasks, workload and timelines.
- · Set a daily routine – routines can help children cope with change and help them understand what is expected of them. Work with your child to develop a routine that suits the whole family and includes a range of activities, for example, schoolwork (literacy and numeracy), physical activity, creative play, family time and limited amounts of screen time.
- · Maintain social relationships – use technologies (such as FaceTime, Zoom or Skype) to help your child maintain contact with friends and other family members, such as grandparents. It is important to monitor their use of social media accounts as excessive use can lead to increased levels of anxiety.
- · Have fun – for many children, their out of school activities (e.g. swimming, football) have been cancelled but it is important for them to stay active. Harness their interests and have fun with them at home, play cricket in the backyard or dance to music inside. You can also take this opportunity to spend quality time with your child by teaching them a new skill or game, read with them, or research a new topic together.