Mental health is a big topic right now. Many Australians have experienced lockdown anxiety, with thousands of people reaching out for help or searching for mental health resources online. If you have a disability and have been struggling with your mental health recently, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that help is available.
You should speak to a mental health professional if you’re feeling very anxious or sad. However, we’ve put together some general tips on caring for your mental health that might be useful if you’re not feeling like yourself and also happen to live with disability.
1.Open up to loved ones
When you’re feeling sad or anxious, it can sometimes feel hard to talk about it, even to the people that you’re closest to. However, it’s important to let your loved ones know that you’re having a difficult time, so that they can help support you. Often, just talking to someone can help us start to feel a little better. If you’re part of a community for people with disability, talk to your friends or support workers as well.
2. Access mental health resources online
Since COVID-19, there are even more mental health resources available online to help people stuck at home to find some help. A good place to start is Beyond Blue or Mind Australia. You can also reach out to our friendly team at Mambourin, to see if we can help direct you to resources that are suited to you and your support needs.
3. Speak to a mental health professional
It’s important not to ignore your mental health symptoms. Seek help from a mental health professional if things start to feel overwhelming. Just like we go to the doctor when we feel physically sick, there’s nothing to be ashamed about in seeking help for our mental health as well.
One of the positives that has come from COVID is that many mental health professionals are now also offering telehealth appointments. This means you can speak to someone about your mental health online via a video platform like Zoom. Speak to your doctor about accessing a mental health plan, or reach out to us at Mambourin and we can help you to understand if you can access mental health support using your NDIS plan.
4. Try to stick to a routine
When your mental health isn’t great, simple things that we usually enjoy doing can become difficult. Even our everyday routines like getting dressed and going to the shops, work or your usual activities can feel impossible. If you can, try and stick to your usual routine as much as possible. It can help you feel comfortable and confident and gives you little tasks to focus on that will help you feel in control of your day.
5. Take a break when you need one
While it can be helpful to try to stick to your routine as much as possible, don’t beat yourself up if you need to take a break and rest for a while. You know your mind and body better than anyone else, so if you need to say ‘no’ to a few people or your usual activities to give yourself time to rest and recharge, then go for it. Just make sure that you’re communicating with your loved ones about why you need to take a break.
6. Fuel your body with good food
While there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to your favourite comfort foods when you’re feeling down (who hasn’t cheered themselves up by eating ice cream and watching movies?) try and balance treats with nutritious foods that help fuel your body. Foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals, like fruit and vegetables, don’t just keep our bodies healthy, they can also help keep our mind healthy too.
7. Try to stay physical
Just like eating nutritious food can help keep us feeling good, getting our bodies moving also has a positive impact on our mental health. Try doing some exercises that you have enjoyed in the past, such as going for a walk, stretching, playing ball games or yoga. If you’re no longer required to stay at home, why not try out a new sport or activity as part of our social and interest choices.
8. Spend some time outdoors
If possible, try and spend some time outside. One of the biggest lifelines for people who experienced lockdown depression and anxiety was being able to get out each day for a walk in the sunshine. Even just getting to the park and sitting in the sun can help us feel connected to ourselves again, and the vitamin D that we absorb from the sun is a natural mood booster. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, why not do some of your favourite inside activities, such as reading or drawing, outside?
9. Try the 5,4,3,2,1 game
If you’re having a really bad moment or feel like your anxiety is turning into panic, the 5,4,3,2,1 game is a proven technique that can help us calm down and start to feel better. The game is easy, and goes like this:
- Name 5 things you can see around you (such as a clock, your bed or a table)
- Touch 4 things near you, while saying the name of that thing (such as your computer screen, the chair you’re sitting on, or your pet)
- Name 3 things that you can hear (such as a car driving past, someone talking or the TV)
- Name 2 things that you can smell (this could be soap, your clothes, the grass or food in your kitchen)
- Name 1 positive thing about yourself (such as “I’m a good friend” or “I’m good at playing computer games”)
10. Join a community group
Online mental health resources are a fantastic place to start, but if you’re looking for a way to improve your overall wellbeing, many people find that joining a group of likeminded people is another excellent way to maintain your mental health. At Mambourin, we offer a range of social and interest choices for people with disability.
Our community choices program is a great way to meet new friends and feel good, by heading out for activities such as shopping trips, bowling or trips to the movies. Or, consider joining us for our leisure and recreation weekends, filled with fun activities to suit all types of interests and personalities.
Caring for our mental health and wellbeing is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. If you feel like you’re struggling at the moment, it’s important to get in touch with a mental health professional or see your doctor. However, if you think you will benefit from getting out in the community and having some fun, contact us at Mambourin to see how we can help!