Regular routine, exercise, sleep and being “ in the moment” are all vital to maintaining wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a mental health expert at Victoria University.
Alex Parker, professor of physical activity and mental health in VU’s Institute of Health and Sport, said it is important people also find ways to stay connected while practising social isolation to help slow the spread of the virus.
She warns that worries about health risks, financial pressures and the onslaught of information have created a perfect storm of stressors.
“This is such a different experience, change and disruption from the way we go about life,” she told Star Weekly.
“We should acknowledge the extent of that to start with – it is OK to be worried and it is ok to be stressed because of course, we would be.”
Professor Parker said people can help by focussing on things that are in their control, such as giving full attention to whatever they are actually doing at the time.
“That could be fun with family or people online, it could be pulling out board games or puzzles from the back of the cupboard,” she said.
“Being physically present is an important part of our relationships, so keeping up online or telephone connection is the best substitute for these times.”
Looking after ourselves physically is also important, said Professor Parker, which could include something as simple as deep breathing exercises.
“We know we are still able to leave the houses to exercise if that is our preference, as long as maintain our distances,” she said.
“For people who are working from home, making sure there isn’t a blurring between home [and work] will become more challenging.
“Maintaining daily structure is really important. We should also be trying to make sure that we keep our regular sleep routines.”