• Dr Majella Soumakiyan


Health guidelines issued during the COVID-19 pandemic focus mainly on social distancing, hand hygiene, and other measures taken to contain the spread of the virus. This is important as the virus has been contracted by over five million people worldwide and has killed over 300,000 people.

Whilst these protective measures are beneficial in containing the virus and its spread it may have negative influence on people’s mental well-being. This change has disrupted our daily routine and livelihood. Lot of jobs have been lost causing financial restrains and stress. Children have to adapt to these changes as well, which can cause added strain to the already fragile mental health. We all are in a changing world which requires us to rethink how we have lived and how we will be living our lives. Many of us have to face the uncertainty of our future and well-being. Added to this is the fear of contracting the infection and or passing it onto our loved once.

Mental health can equally affect adults as well as children. These new changes in our lives can worsen existing mental health conditions, but also cause new onset of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. The human brain does not like uncertainty. It thrives on stability. It is perfectly natural to feel overwhelmed and worried about the current pandemic and it is easy to get tangled into this spiral of worry about our future. It is important to remember that his is a temporary situation and we will come out of it.

There are number of measures that we can take to help ourselves maintain good physical and mental health. The foremost basic thing is to establish a routine amidst of all this uncertainty and chaos. We can start to do this from the hearts of our homes. Regular exercise and healthy eating can be a good starting point. It is easy to steer our concentration on food and alcohol when we are stressed and have more time on our hands. Alcohol consumption and weight gain can reduce our ability to cope with the added stress and bring down our confidence. We need to train our minds to concentrate on what we can control and focus on small goals and tasks.

Another important thing is to maintain a good work-life balance. This can be challenging when most of us are working from home. Again, having a routine is very important. We should not get consumed with work all day. Taking regular breaks and consciously making an effort to stretch and get fresh air can do wonders for our body and mind.

We have all missed being around those we close in the past few months. As humans, we need physical contact to show our love and care. With social distancing in place, we don’t get to give that occasional hug, pat on the back, or even a simple hand shake. Even though we may not be physically close to each other, it is important to maintain contact with our dear and near. Luckily in this day and age, technology has allowed us to stay close to our near and dear via social network or phone.

Another factor that can play an important role on our mental state is the amount of information are exposed to. It is good to be up-to-date with what’s happening in Australia and around the globe, but we need to learn to limit our repeated exposure to negative news. Even when we hear or read the same news again and again, our mind perceives this as new negative information. This can add a lot of stress and anxiety.

Throughout this challenging time, the most important thing is to remember to ask for help if you are struggling. You are not alone in this and your doctor should be your first contact.

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