The following article is written by Ana Kardum. She is a counsellor based in the Northern Beaches.

A strong body of research links stressful environmental events with the likelihood of later non-specific changes in health, even if the original change  presents as asymptomatic. If the stress response is intense or sustained, it can increase our susceptibility to physical and mental illness.

Under current circumstances, this means that lowering stress levels is central to preserving our future physical and mental health. But how are we to do that when others are in a state of panic?

Below are the tips for managing your family’s physical, mental and social equilibrium during the challenging times:

  1. Eat a balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and nuts, and stay hydrated.
  2. Exercise 4-5 times per week using cardio, weight bearing, aerobics; modify and modulate according to your physical fitness.
  3. If you’re feeling anxious take a deep breath through your nose, hold for a few seconds and exhale through your mouth. Repeat.
  4. Invest in sleep hygiene (limit late meals, enjoy relaxing music, keep a regular bedtime, practice positive reflection/gratitude).
  5. Be kind to yourself and others; be a role model to your children.
  6. Follow government instructions for self-protection (hygiene, social distancing).
  7. Check government announcements to stay informed.
  8. DON’T watch news obsessively; in some cases it may be appropriate not to tune in at all, given that media sensationalises issues in order to attract its audience.
  9.  Stay connected to people who are positive either by phone or in person.
  10. Engage in activities that elevate your mood, be it listening to music, going for a walk or enjoying time in the sun.
  11.  If negative thoughts persist, talk to your doctor, call a counsellor or contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
  12. If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19 call the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080.

Try to remember that this will be over in the near future and that we should not allow this episode to negatively effect out future mental and physical health.

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