The last few months have really been a challenge for so many people; we've faced some really unsettling and nerve wrecking situations that some of us may never of been exposed to or experienced before. We've seen unrelenting drought, unprecedented bush fires, unbelievable hail storms and flooding and most recently it's pandemic that is impacting us all globally.
There's been many changes taking place and often at a pace most of us are struggling to keep up with. Many of us have shifted to now working from home. Public events have been cancelled. Some schools have closed down. The nursing homes where many of us have aged parents and grandparents are moving to a state of lock down.
Many people are now more likely to be spending their more of their day engaging with social media and its constant cycle of news about the devastation and disruption of COVID-19 on our local communities, our country and the world.
With all these unprecedented changes taking place, there is likely to be lots of tensions that arise over the coming weeks and months, it's now that we need to take good care of ourselves; physically, mentally and emotionally. While we already know the negative psychological impacts that occur when people are quarantined, we are in uncharted territory when it comes to more of us staying at home in a world so dominated by social media.
During these times, it’s imperative we remember our common humanity and be kind to our fellow humans. It doesn't cost us anything and it's at a time where it's essential.
For many of the hundreds of thousands of Australians who live with complex mental health issues, the world was already an unsure and unsafe place well before the impacts of climate change became obvious and long before there was something called COVID-19.
Imagine the situation some people face today. You might be managing your mental health to get through life one day at a time. You could be already dealing with the social distancing impacts of stigma and discrimination.
You might have also been affected by the bush fires and are still in a state of hyper vigilance but now have the added stress of COVID-19. We are told how important it is to keep and build on our social connections and then the next day, because of the COVID-19, we are being told to keep our distance, don’t touch people and be on constant alert. It's all very confusing and nerve-wrecking.
All this talk of “social distancing” is a exceptionally unhelpful term. We need to shift our language to have a more positive connotation and reflection to be that of “physical distancing with social connection”.
This is where online supports, like the SANE Forums or Head to Health are so important and likely to become more so in the weeks and months ahead. A safe place to reach out to, to keep your mind busy and engaged; to reduce the feeling of 'complete isolation'.
At the ACT Recovery College, we’re working hard to keep our students, educators, volunteers and staff both safe and healthy so that we can continue to operate our services; a place to continue that social connection, learning and opportunity. At the same time, we’re grappling with the challenges of implementing changes to ensure a safe working distance for student and educators space within the classroom, having more educators being restricted to work from home from their employers as well as lots of people being unwell with colds and flu's.
The staff at the College are monitoring and responding to the evolving situation in line with the latest ACT and national Government advice. We are working closely together with regular meetings as we seek to provide clear and consistent communications and plan for an uncertain future. In short, we are taking good care of ourselves so that we can keep supporting the College community.
Here are eight tips that might help you maintain a sense of well-being in these difficult times:
1. Keep a regular routine – see if you can get up the same time each day and get dressed for the day, even if you aren’t going out
2. Maintain some form of daily exercise
3. Seriously limit your media consumption – if you can possibly manage it, scale back the scrolling
4. Read that book you’ve been talking about reading or watch that new series you've been eyeing off
5. Video, call, email or text to those you care about most
6. Look out for those you know who are likely to be doing it tougher than you – your connecting with them in times like this will be doubly appreciated and you’ll feel better in yourself
7. Reach out to your support networks by the phone or online
8. Practise gratitude – as difficult as things are, appreciate how we lucky we are not to be living in a country with a third rate health care system. Appreciate the many selfless health care workers who, just like the firies a few weeks ago, are putting their lives on the line.
Reach out to those you love.
Be kind to everyone you encounter.
And, together, let’s combat COVID-19 with KINDNESS-20.