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Mental Health focus: Coronavirus related stress and anxiety


As the Coronavirus situation evolves almost daily, feelings of stress and anxiety in the community are likely to increase. It’s important to acknowledge the situation and take reasonable precautions for our physical health, however we also need to manage feelings and take care of mental health. The Australian Psychological Society has offered some tips for older adults to keep stress and anxiety at bay during this challenging period.

Learn the facts (but limit media exposure)

For our physical health it is vital to stay up-to-date with news and updates, however it is important to receive the factual information from a reliable and trusted source. This includes the Australian Government Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) and follow their recommendations.
However a constant influx of information and media coverage about Coronavirus could actually lead to feelings of anxiousness, stress and concern. Try to limit your exposure to constant media updates by taking breaks and switching off alerts throughout the day.

Perspective

As the pandemic continues to develop, we all worry about how this is going to affect our own and our family’s health, work and finances. Try to keep your concerns in perspective. Rather than imagining the worst-case scenario and worrying about it, refer to reliable and credible facts and apply them to your situation. This may involve making changes to your usual routine, such a postponing non-essential appointments or asking family, friends, neighbours or caregivers to  provide you more assistance.
And remember, we have qualified professionals working to keep people well and policymakers are working on strategies to manage the spread of the virus.

Practice physical distance but keep up social connections

Current recommendations advise practising social distancing as a way to prevent or slow the spread of COVID-19. This means keep your physical distance from others where possible. Unfortunately this can also result in reduced social contact.
Engaging in social activities is still possible while maintaining physical distance, but it does take creative and flexible thinking. Switch to virtual catch-ups via videoconferencing technology (e.g., Zoom, FaceTime, Skype) instead of face-to-face. Send a text or email. Call your friends and family on the telephone if you do not have access to video-based technology. And chat to the ComLink team to find out how we can support you during this time.
And remember, Social distancing doesn’t mean locking yourself indoors. If you practise good hygiene and keep your physical distance from others, you can still enjoy your backyard, do gardening, sit on the porch, get your mail and talk to neighbours (from a distance).

Don’t hesitate to seek additional support

If you are feeling your levels of stress and anxiety are getting too much it might be time to reach out for some extra support.  The Australian Psychological Society recommends:
Talking to your GP first
Contact ComLink or your care provider to check in and have a chat about your social support.
Connect with your family to raise your concerns.
And Beyond Blue 1800 512 348 and Lifeline 13 11 14 phonelines are open 24hrs a day.

As a community we can all do our bit and work together to get through this challenging time.

Source: Australian Psychological Society fact sheet

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