To our wonderful community,
As the announcement of the extended lockdown was made I found myself feeling an array of different emotions. This spanned from anxiety and fear at the onset, to happiness and gratitude when I mentally acknowledged that my family and I are safe and healthy. Being thankful for what I have makes it easier to put things into perspective.
Without a doubt, everyone in our community would have taken the news of this extended lockdown differently. The biggest difference between this lockdown and the 2020 lockdown is that many of us now know what to expect and what our own personal challenges will be. Nonetheless, it doesn’t mean that facing these challenges will be easy. I thought this would be a good time to remind everyone to always keep your mental health in check. The feelings of anxiety and stress that we feel during these lockdowns not only impact our mental capacity, but also our emotional and physical wellbeing.
We all process stress differently so the most important mechanism for coping with these changes is being able to identify how our own anxiety affects us personally.
While we are required to remain at home, I would like to encourage everyone to take their daily walks for exercise (not at the shops). It is important that we move our muscles and get some sunshine on our skin. The reason why this is so important is because anxiety grows and snowballs, especially when we stay at home. Anxiety makes us feel that the only place we are safe, the only place we are free from all harm, is at home within our four walls. This may be somewhat true with COVID-19, but we can all still go out and safely exercise within reason. This relatively simple activity will have a major impact on how your anxiety will affect you physically, purely because it is giving your body a release and allowing your muscles to relax.
Try your best to implement some exercise into your daily routine. Make it something that moves your arms, legs and back as those are the common areas where anxiety can manifest.
The other thing I want to put forward is that it is ok not to listen to the daily updates at 11 and fixate on them if they are affecting your mental health. As the cases progress, I have seen more and more people ‘worry plummet’ into a very deep and dark hole which is overwhelming and filled with feelings of hopelessness. If it is getting too much for you, do not watch the news extensively. Log in once, get the numbers and switch off. If you are using the QR codes correctly and logging in and out of where you go, then NSW health will contact you if you are required to isolate or get tested.
Now you know how important it is to be aware of how your anxiety can impact your own mental capacity, It is equally important to know the signs when you see someone is not coping. If someone you know needs help, please reach out to them. Call them, share these tips with them, and let them know they’re not alone.
I also wanted to encourage everyone to check in on your neighbour. In particular, if you have an elderly or isolated neighbour, there is no harm in having a chat over the backyard fence (at a distance) to make sure they are ok. If you notice your neighbour is homeschooling four primary school aged children, maybe in their case you could leave them a bottle of wine at their door with a word of encouragement.
If you are personally struggling, don’t be embarrassed to reach out. Your local GP would be a good place to start. Talking to a close friend or someone you can trust can also be helpful. There are many spiritual and religious leaders in the community who I am sure would be more than willing to help. There is also a number of other professional services that everyone has access to, including Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14; Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636; Kids Helpline: 1800 551 80; Emergency: 000; Confidential Helpline: 1800 737 732; Mensline: 1300 78 99 78; and Relationships Australia: 1300 364 277.
We are a community full of very kind-hearted and warm individuals. Let’s all pay it forward and make an effort to just check in on one person a week that we otherwise wouldn’t think to reach out to. The neighbour, the teacher, the local receptionist at your medical centre. A few words of encouragement can really go a long way.