Looking after your mental health during the COVID‑19 situation
*This information is relevant to Trimester 1/Semester 1, 2020*
With increasing numbers of novel COVID-19 (coronavirus) cases being detected in Australia, many people are understandably experiencing feelings of anxiety and worry.
While feeling concerned about your health and the wellbeing of your loved ones is a very normal reaction to the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 situation, it is particularly important at this time for you to engage in strategies that will assist you with looking after your mental health and wellbeing.
What are signs of stress and anxiety?
Common feelings you or those around you may be experiencing:
- anxiety or worry
- feeling fearful about your health or the health of your family
- feeling helpless or frustrated about a loss of control over your day-to-day routine
- withdrawing from other people or feeling scared to leave your home
- tearfulness or sadness
- uncomfortable physical symptoms such as a racing heart, lack of appetite, an upset stomach, and/or headaches
- increased symptoms of any chronic health problems
- changes in eating habits
- irritability or anger
- lack of energy or motivation
- changes in sleeping habits, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, or experiencing nightmares
- difficulty concentrating
- increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other substances.
Managing feelings of stress
During this time, it is crucial you take steps to maintain your health and wellbeing:
- Prioritise self-care. Try to maintain a balanced diet, ensure you are getting enough sleep and getting some regular exercise. Try to exercise outside when and if possible for maximum benefits to your mental health – sunshine and fresh air will make you feel better if you’ve been spending more time inside.
- Know that your feelings are valid. Pay attention to your feelings and recognise that they may fluctuate at times in response to the current situation. Try expressing what you’re feeling by talking to a friend, practising meditation or getting creative. If you are still struggling to manage your feelings, consider speaking with a counsellor. Deakin offers free confidential counselling and psychological support to students. Appointments can be offered via Skype or phone and can be booked online.
- Stay in touch with others. Remember you are not alone in this. During times of stress, staying connected to your family and friends can help you feel supported and comforted. Talk to your loved ones about how you’re feeling and listen to their thoughts too.
- Stick to your normal routines as much as possible. If you’re studying more from home, try to wake up at the same time each day, prepare your breakfast as usual and dress like you would be going out to get yourself in a positive frame of mind.
- Limit your media exposure and keep yourself occupied. While you may consider it important to keep up-to-date with the news, if you find that you’re frequently checking the news or social media for updates, or that you are feeling distressed or focusing on negative information, you should take a break. Keep doing things you enjoy such as practising sports or other hobbies, reading, watching your favourite series on Netflix, or going for a walk.
- Stay up to date with accurate information. While it is common to feel some stress in response to this situation, it is important to know that anxiety and fear can escalate through lack of accurate and factual information. Deakin has a dedicated team coordinating the University’s response to this global event, and we are closely monitoring and responding to the latest expert advice from government and health authorities – our FAQs provide the most current information and are updated regularly. The Australian Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) sites also detail the latest evidence-based information and health recommendations in response to the COVID-19 situation.
This Australian Psychological Society (APS) resource has more information about coping with coronavirus anxiety.
We’re here if you need help
Do you need support?
Most of our health and wellbeing services are available online, so you can still access support when you need it. You can:
- email a nurse at [email protected]
- check out the Ask Counselling blog
- book a phone appointment to speak to a counsellor
- access a Wellbeing Coach via phone
- email a Chaplain.
Our eWellbeing Hub has a range of digital resources to keep you happy, safe, motivated and healthy.
What should I do if I feel unwell?
If you start to feel unwell and suspect you have COVID-19 (coronavirus) symptoms, call ahead to book an appointment with your doctor, general practitioner or emergency centre, and advise them of your symptoms, travel history and any recent close contact with someone who has coronavirus. To locate your nearest service, visit the National Health Service Directory.
The Deakin Medical Centre has limited appointments available to see students or staff. Please ensure you have booked an appointment online prior to arriving in person. At this stage, there is only the capacity to see pre-booked appointments. If you feel unwell with flu-like symptoms, please call ahead of your appointment and a practice nurse will assist you in the first instance. This is to assist the health and wellbeing of the entire Deakin community.
If you’re still not sure where to go, just contact Student Central, who can direct you to services right across the University.
Deakin is continuing to review and monitor the COVID-19 situation as it unfolds. Our FAQs provide the most current information and are updated regularly. If you are a current or future international student, please visit Deakin’s COVID-19 (coronavirus) FAQs – international students to see more information about travel restrictions and your study options.