Lack of sleep, or poor-quality sleep, can contribute to poorer mental health.
Keeping to your usual sleep routine even when your daily life has been disrupted is helpful. Aim to get seven to nine hours of sleep a night.
The food we eat can have a direct impact on our mental health. Try to eat a well-balanced diet rich in vegetables and nutrients.
Where possible, avoid processed food, and those high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates, which have been linked to poorer mental health.
3. Social connectedness
Being connected to others is important for our mental and physical well-being and can protect against anxiety and depression.
Despite the physical barriers, it’s important to find alternate ways to maintain your connections with family, friends and the community during this difficult time.
Physical activity decreases anxiety, stress and depression and can be used as part of a treatment plan for people with mental illness.
Regular exercise also improves the function of your immune system and decreases inflammation.
You might need to find different ways of exercising, such as running, walking or tuning into an online class, but try to make physical activity an enjoyable and rewarding part of your daily routine while at home.
Scheduling physical activity at the end of your “work day” can help to separate work from your personal life when working from home.
5. Stress management
It’s important to be able to recognize when you’re stressed. You might have feelings of panic, a racing heart or butterflies in the stomach, for example. And then find ways to reduce this stress.
Mindfulness practices such as meditation, for example, can decrease stress and improve mental health. There are a number of breathing exercises that can also help to manage stress.
Spending time outdoors has also been shown to reduce stress. So, consider spending time in your backyard, on your balcony or deck, or if possible, take a greener route when accessing essential services.
Talking about your experiences and concerns with a trusted person can also protect your mental health.
6. Avoiding risky substance use
While it might be tempting to reach for alcohol or other drugs while you’re self-isolating, keep in mind they can trigger mental health problems, or make them worse.
The draft alcohol guidelines recommend Australians drink no more than ten standard drinks a week, and no more than four a day.
People who drink more than four standard drinks per day experience more psychological distress than those who do not.
Where to get help
A good place to start is with Beyond Blue, which offers online discussion forums.
If you feel you need additional support, you can make an appointment with your GP and discuss getting a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist, as well as telehealth and bulk billing options.
If you need immediate support and are in crisis, go to the emergency department of your local hospital, contact your local crisis assessment and treatment team (CATT) or psychiatric emergency team (PET),.
Other agencies that can help in a crisis are. Hope one day the global south nations will establish 24 seven help line!
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The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy, diversity, inclusion and sustainability expert.
Australian Chief Minister Award winner
“excellence of making inclusion happen”