Border residents are being urged to find creative ways to reach out to people who may be hardest hit by the social isolation generated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lifeline has stressed the importance of finding ways to combat the negative impacts on mental health that can result from restricted access to work, religious gatherings, sport or other group connections.
From calling, messaging and using interactive technology to leaving a note under the door, the service says "don't under-estimate the power you have to offer hope to another person".
Lifeline, which has pledged to keep support services available, has suggested ways to stay connected include:
- Set up a gratitude tree where every member posts a message or sends a text to share something they are grateful for.
- Find a buddy to set daily challenges with: a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit.
- Set dates and times to watch TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts; like Goggle Box minus the couch!
- If your local community has one, join its social media group to keep up to date with what's going on directly around you.
Lifeline has also issued other strategies for coping with imposed isolation:
- Recognise when it's getting too much: watch out for signs of stress and get extra support when things become overwhelming. Allow yourself extra time to get things done. Try to limit exposure to media and social media that may heighten your sense of anxiety.
- Talk: release your emotions and tension by talking to someone you trust. This can help put things into perspective. It's likely others in your community are experiencing similar feelings so this gives everyone an opportunity to release negative feelings and discuss practical ways to deal with the situation.
- Develop an action plan: decide who's going to do what and when. Summarise your financial situation and discuss your options with your bank to alleviate stress of any financial concerns. Having a plan will help you feel you are making progress
- Take care of yourself : try to eat well, exercise and sleep. Wherever possible, schedule extra time for things you enjoy or that you find relaxing.
- Get help: lean on family and friends. Strong support networks can provide emotional or practical support. Explain your needs and tell them exactly how they can help. Make a list of places you can access for help, for example financial assistance, emotional support, your GP or a helpline like Lifeline.
- Consider professional help: If you feel heightened anxiety for a prolonged period, seek professional help (earlier if needed).
The following are tips to helping children cope through COVID-19:
- Give your children extra attention and reassurance. Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety.
- Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let your children know its ok to share their own feeling.
- Include your children in plans and activities around the house.
- If you don't see an improvement in 4 weeks, or you're concerned seek professional help (earlier if needed).
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