Self-care in stressful times


If you’re experiencing a whole range of different emotions right now, you’re not alone. A quick scan of major news and social media platforms shows a stunning array of different reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. People the world over are describing sadness, frustration, boredom, sleep disturbance and major shifts in mood from hope to fear and back again.

The same but different

Across the world, people are finding themselves in similar situations with pandemic self-isolation and social distancing. Yet, we’re also different from each other with different ways of coping in difficult situations. The American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests people react differently to stress in their lives due to a number of factors. These factors include our past experiences, individual personalities and the situation we are each living in.

Our differences mean each of us will need different strategies to help us through the crisis. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. What works to calm one person, may make another person more frustrated and angry. We each have a journey to take in discovering the best techniques to help us cope.

Five steps to develop your own self-care strategies:

1. Emotions are OK Practice simply noticing and accepting the emotions you feel each day rather than attempting to change or remove them. Emotions help guide us, just like traffic signals, to navigate this new world safely.

2. Different triggers Very strong emotions that catch us by surprise may be personal triggers from past difficult situations. If the sight of certain news footage causes a stream of past difficult memories, try reducing the amount of news you watch or pausing to take a break and breathe. Avoiding triggers isn’t helpful but limiting the amount of triggers we deal with daily can reduce stress.

3. Past favourites We may never have experienced this situation before, but most of us can remember other tough times. Think back to a difficult time in your past and try to remember how you coped. Perhaps you used friends to distract you, watched movies or lost yourself in a good book. Try to re-discover long forgotten but much-loved strategies to find calm.

4. Try something new If you haven’t tried Mindfulness before, now may be a great time to find out how it works. Mindfulness is a well-researched psychological technique that helps calm stressed minds. It involves refocusing on the present instead of tuning into the many busy thoughts that come and go in a day. Google ‘Mindfulness’ to implement a practice into your routine.

5. Get help If none of the above techniques suit you and you would like some help, you can call CCareline on 13 18 19 Mon - Fri 8am - 8pm to learn what services are available to you. Alternatively you can call a 24 hour service for support such as Lifeline (13 11 14) or Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) to talk to a professional about how you are feeling.

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