Keeping loneliness at bay while staying at home

This article is adapted from a piece previously published on Beyond Blue’s website.

Many people in Australia are currently either still social distancing, self-isolating, or self-quarantining. Here are some ways to look after your mental wellbeing while staying at home.

Human beings are social creatures and thrive on meaningful connection, so although the COVID-19 pandemic remains challenging us on many levels, the need to stay away from others – and where possible predominantly stay at home – is arguably one of the hardest things to come from COVID-19. This is particularly prominent for those who live alone.

Not having enough social connection can seriously affect our mental health and wellbeing, so it’s vital to prioritise staying connected with loved ones. It’s also important to stick to healthy routines and prioritise enjoyable pastimes, placing a heavy focus on eating well and getting enough exercise and good-quality sleep.

Looking after your mental health and wellbeing from home

According to Dr Steve Ellen, a psychiatrist and co-author of Mental: Everything you Never Knew you Need to Know About Mental Health, the need to self-distance or self-isolate may heighten feelings of loneliness, fear, stress, anxiety and depression. To cope, he recommends doing the following:

Stay connected with loved ones – use your phone, social media and apps such as Skype, FaceTime and WhatsApp to stay in touch with family and friends. Touch base with someone every single day.

Do things you enjoy – read that pile of books and watch those TV shows you missed. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, make the most of it. Why not try a new pastime that you can do at home or online? Painting and listening to music are both great ways of relaxing and practising mindfulness. If you enjoy DYI, now’s a good time to knuckle down and get jobs done.

Stay healthy – focus on eating well and getting enough exercise and good-quality sleep. Take the time to cook from fresh, do online yoga or aerobics, meditate and focus on maintaining good sleep habits. Keeping up healthy routines will help both your physical and mental health.

Stay informed, but not overloaded – try to limit your media and online exposure. Seek advice from credible sources only and don’t consume news all day long.

Reach out  – if you are finding that you are struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out. If you need assistance please visit the dedicated Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service. Trained mental health professionals are available to talk to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, via phone.

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