The demand for mental health services has surged due to COVID-19. Lifeline received 3,345 calls on August 3rd, possible due to Australia’s current lockdowns.
This pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s physical, emotional, and mental health. On top of health and safety concerns and social distancing measures, there are also work deadlines to meet, bills to pay, and for some, businesses to keep afloat.
Dealing with all these can certainly leave you feeling anxious and disconnected. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to relieve the stress and care for your well-being.
Here are 7 acts of self-care you can do during these challenging times.
1. Recharge your tired brain by spending time in nature
Leisure activities like reading books and catching up on Netflix shows may not always be the best way to recharge your brain. ‘Directed attention’ takes effort and holds your attention too forcefully. Like overworking your muscles, you can also overwork your attention.
To combat attention fatigue, give yourself moments of soft fascination, such as spending time with nature. Going for a walk is stimulating enough to engage your brain without overworking it. And while you can get fresh air from being on the move constantly, basking in the sun without work on your mind can be a refreshing experience!
Since going to a park or nature trail may not be an option right now, you can still spend some time in your backyard. It might even be the perfect opportunity to get into gardening, which can also be very therapeutic.
2. Get in shape with easy habits
Getting in shape doesn’t have to mean taking drastic measures. Take it from personal trainer Lucy Lismore on tips for simple and healthy food swaps:
- Mix it up – If your favourite cereal is high in sugar, mix in healthier options like Bran Flakes or Special K. Doing this lessens the sugar, fat, and salt content in your cereal without compromising the taste.
- Make your own – Swap out pre-made oatmeal sachets with homemade oats. By making your own oats, you control what goes in your food.
- Go slow – Those three spoons of sugar can add up as you go through several cups of coffee in a day. Cut down the sugar you put in your coffee or tea by a teaspoon or two. If you’re a latte or cappuccino type of person, you can also switch to black coffee a couple of days a week.
Incredible things can happen with small yet consistent changes. On top of a healthy diet, you can hire a personal trainer who can coach you virtually and help you reach your fitness goals.
3. Set ‘hate days’ to power through your tedious tasks
Paperwork and other administrative tasks can take you away from the work you enjoy. Career coach Michael Thompson recommends the life-changing idea of “Hate Days”, which is pretty simple: Lump together all your tedious tasks into one day a week!
Hate days can be for invoicing, doing your taxes, or getting on calls you’ve been putting off. You can also spend it brushing up on a skill you don’t particularly enjoy but helpful for your business.
By setting one day a week for the tiresome tasks, you free up a ton of headspace for the work you love.
4. Downsize your to-do list
When work gets too much, it’s okay to ask for help. Aside from setting hate days, you can hand over the tasks to someone else entirely. Go ahead and hire an expert who specialises and actually enjoys the work you’d rather not do yourself!
An accountant can take over your paperwork and keep track of your accounts. You can also hire a web developer to fix your business website and ramp up your online presence. A polished and usable website could do wonders for your business.
Remember: Divide and conquer! You don’t have to do all the work yourself.
5. Recharge your creative energy
Did you know sleep and rest are not the same?
If you always feel tired despite getting more sleep, you may be missing out on other types of rest. Physician and TED talk speaker Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith MD talks about the many kinds of rest everyone needs.
Creative rest is especially important if you spend lots of time problem-solving and brainstorming. If coming up with ideas is the exhale, then taking in beauty and art is the inhale.
- Surround yourself with the beautiful sights outdoors. Doing so can be as simple as sitting in the garden, admiring the flowers, and enjoying the afternoon breeze.
- Fill your workspace with images of places you love or paintings that inspire you. It’s definitely better than staring at a blank wall for 40+ hours a week!
Once you’re in a creative mood again, you can explore hobbies outside of work. Perhaps jumping on the sourdough bread bandwagon or finally learning how to play the guitar!
6. Automate your small decisions
Grocery lists, what clothes to put on, or what to eat for lunch – these tiny decisions take up your precious energy. Everyone has a daily energy reserve, but remember to use it wisely! The more time you spend on trivial tasks, the less you have on things that matter.
Aussie blogger Tim Denning offers helpful advice on automating your “useless decisions” to focus on your more important goals.
For example, set a specific time to reply to emails instead of constantly checking your notifications. As for grocery lists, set a weekly deadline for everyone in your household to fill up your shopping list. This way, you don’t have to audit the fridge on the fly come grocery day.
7. Stay connected with your loved ones
Social distancing has cut everyone off from friends and family, which can greatly affect your mental health.
Connection combats feelings of isolation. Regular online catch-ups with loved ones are essential in this time of social distancing, says psychologist Sabina Read.
Thanks to technology, it’s now easier to stay in touch! Catch up with a family member over the phone, or schedule a digital movie night with your mates. Video streaming platforms can tide you over while you wait for the cinemas to reopen.
Also, make sure to check in with your coworkers now and then. Everyone could use a safe space to talk about their worries and work through their struggles, even if it’s just through Zoom or Facetime.
Mental health resources you can go to for help
- Beyond Blue – Free 24/7 coronavirus mental well-being support via phone, chat, or email.
- The H.A.L.T. Brekky – A community for tradies where you can learn about stress management and connect with fellow tradies.
- Head to Health – A website where you can find apps, forums, and information on digital mental health services.
Self-care is key to keeping yourself healthy, safe, and sane while riding out the waves of the pandemic. Taking care of your mental health will also ripple out to different aspects of your life, including your profession.
The Airtasker community is here to support you as you navigate these hard times. Feel free to check our website for various services if you need help at home or with your business.