Despite the challenges, it is important – now more than ever – to be intentional about reaching out to one another and keeping our connections strong.
“This is temporary and life will change again. Life changes all the time. We’re in a different stage right now, and it will change in the future. We will be able to go to yoga class, we will be able to go swimming, we will be able to sit and have coffee or a glass of wine with our friends – we’re just in a different stage of life right now,” HealthWISE mental health clinician Kate Stewart reminds us.
“We need to make the best of what we’ve got now and reframe that to something positive. And I think the positive is staying healthy and spending time with our loved ones or talking to people that we can talk to. “
This is what the #AllInThisTogether campaign is all about; staying mentally healthy and supporting one another as our lives turn on their heads.
#AllInThisTogether includes a series of practical tips for life in a pandemic.
Stay connected – physical distance does not equal emotional distance, and we are encouraged to make the most of our technology to remain in touch.
“I think it’s great to send text messages or Instagram or Facebook.”
Talk, don’t type – although texting is a great way to stay in touch, Kate agrees that actually talking with your friends and family can be a much more powerful way of feeling connected to them.
“You can still sit down and have a coffee with someone when they’re on the other side of the screen.”
Reach out and play your part – while we can’t reach out and touch anybody, keeping an eye on the vulnerable people in our community has never been more important. Our actions during this time can have an incredible impact.
“We need to be aware of our neighbours or our loved ones or people in the community that we know are socially isolated,” Kate says. Some people may be more demanding of our time than usual, but it is important to consider why they feel this way.
“Some elderly people have had to stop their coffee mornings or their bridge club, or they can’t easily just go and grab their newspaper or fresh bread in the morning and talk to 10 people on the way. So if we’re getting calls from our isolated family members, talk to them. It’s ok to stop and spend the time and check in on them as well.”
Check in and be kind to yourself – when an airplane crashes, you’re ordered to put your own oxygen mask on before assisting anyone else with theirs, because you can’t help others without helping yourself first. The same principle applies to our current situation.
“Tell someone If you’re not feeling great. Reach out to your friends and colleagues that you would normally talk to. It’s ok to have days where you wake up and feel a little bit unsettled,” Kate says.
“Keep your key supports around you, keep talking to the people around you, have your routines of checking on family and friends that may be in another state or another country.”
For those working from home while juggling kids and grocery shopping, Kate says it’s important to give yourself permission to get organised. Recognise that some things may take a little longer now, and plan for it. Organise your firewood or arrange a payment plan with your electricity provider to keep warm this winter.
“Preparation can be self care,” Kate says.
These are just a few ways we can stay balanced during these turbulent times. Other great #InThisTogether tips include: follow the facts, take a break, get sweaty (exercise), routine helps, keep kids talking, financial stress is real – talk about it and helpers need help too.