Looking after your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak
The outbreak of the coronavirus is impacting individuals and our communities in various ways from stress on our healthcare systems and supermarkets through to changes in our jobs and travel plans. It is understandable that during times like this you may be feeling worried, stressed, anxious, overwhelmed or even angry, particularly given that the situation is constantly developing and new information and restrictions are being introduced almost daily.
Our physical and mental health are interlinked. The more stressed and anxious we are, the more vulnerable we are to becoming physically unwell e.g. low energy, sleep disturbance, poor appetite, difficulty concentrating, tiredness and illness.
It is important during this time to not only look after our physical health but to focus on measures to protect your mental health. Some useful strategies to help you maintain your emotional wellbeing and reduce stress and anxiety include:
● Maintain a healthy routine: Keep to your regular routines as much as possible including
trying to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, exercise, shower,
change your clothes and exercise.
● Get the facts: Constant exposure to news and social media coverage about the
coronavirus can increase fear and anxiety. Limit your exposure and instead seek out
accurate information from reputable sources such as the World Health Organization or the
Australian Department of Health.
● Follow basic hygiene practices: Wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face,
stay at home if you feel unwell and seek out medical care if you have a fever, cough or
● Recognise and acknowledge your feelings: Allow your feelings to come and go rather
than trying to ignore or avoid them. Try practicing relaxation, meditation and mindfulness to
help calm your body. Avoid using drugs and alcohol to cope with uncomfortable emotions.
● Connect with others: Loneliness and social isolation can contribute to mental health
problems such as depression and anxiety. Be creative in how you interact with others e.g.
use social media, write emails, play online games, join a virtual book club or spend time
with your pet.
● Stay active: Exercise can help to reduce stress and improve mood. Go for a walk or run in
less crowded areas, do physical activity in your backyard or try an online yoga or exercise
● Keep things in perspective: If you find your thoughts are turning to the worst case
scenario try to identify other possible outcomes, remind yourself that coronavirus symptoms
are usually mild and most people will recover without specialised treatment and refocus
your attention to things that are within your control.
● Take your medication as prescribed: If you are currently taking medication to manage a
mental health condition, continue to take your medication as prescribed and think about
filling your prescriptions ahead of time so that you are prepared should you be required to
● Seek support: Talk to a trusted friend or family member, continue to attend psychological
therapy sessions, or call one of Australia’s national 24/7 crisis support services such as
Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyondblue on 1300 224 636
If you are struggling to cope or feel overwhelmed by emotions as a result of the coronavirus a
psychologist may be able to help. If you are referred to a psychologist by your GP, you might be eligible for a Medicare rebate. You may also be eligible to receive psychological services via
telehealth so that you can access sessions from home.
APS 2020, Tips for coping with coronavirus anxiety. The Australian Psychological Society,
WHO 2020, Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak, media
release, 12 March, World Health Organisation, viewed 19 March 2020,