Our way of life has changed significantly over the last few weeks. It feels surreal, like watching a movie at the cinema. There are new terms to get used to, like ‘social distancing’ and ‘self isolation’; future social events, things we were looking forward to, are being ‘cancelled’.  

What we can and can’t do is changing on a daily basis. We are preparing for further changes to come, changes we hope to be temporary if everyone does the right thing. 

We have seen the community come together, just like during the bushfires, to help look after each other and the vulnerable people in our society. We need to see more of this. 

People are concerned about loved ones in other states and countries. People are concerned about their financial position. People are concerned about their own health and wellbeing. If you are feeling stressed and overwhelmed – you are not alone. In situations like this, it is normal to feel stressed, anxious and uncertain. Because none of us have experienced anything like this before. It requires more thinking energy, more problem solving and sitting with uncomfortable feelings. We have to do life differently.

Sometimes it’s helpful to focus on what is in our control – here are 10 tips.

1. Limit exposure to media (TV, facebook, news) – consider a media curfew in the evening so you have a break before bed. Eg turn off devices at 8:00pm. Listen to trusted information sources, not what Mary’s cousin’s hairdresser’s brother said. 

2. Stay in touch with family and friends by phone or video chat – it’s important to stay connected even if you can’t see each other face to face. Talk about your worries – but also talk about your hopes and what you are grateful for. Make plans for after the pandemic has passed.

3. Take reasonable precautions – Stay home if you don’t feel well. Wash your hands often, don’t touch your face, listen to advice, phone for medical help. Keep 1.5 meters distance from others.

4. Be kind to others – Check in with neighbours, friends, offer help where and if you can. If you have extra food at home – share it around. 

5. Try not to make assumptions or judgements about others – for example, if someone has a mask on there could be a number of reasons why. If someone is buying toilet paper, it might be because they have run out, not that they are stockpiling. 

6. Keep a daily routine – routines give us a sense of control and predictability to our days. Things like waking up at the same time each day, having regular meals, allocate time for work, chores, enjoyable activities and exercise. 

7. Stay physically active – whether an indoor workout, yoga at home, or going for a bushwalk. 

8. Avoid alcohol and drugs – although it may feel good in the short term, they tend to mask anxiety or depression, and won’t help in the long run. 

9. Do something new – the library has e-magazines and e-books you can rent online. Try a meditation video.  Listen to a podcast. Play a board game. Cook a creative meal from what ingredients you have. Get lost in a novel. Do something creative just for fun – no pressure to create a masterpiece. Make use of the technologies we have. 

10. Reach out – There are still many agencies available to support you. 

The Huon Bushfire Recovery Counselling Service is able to provide support and counselling to the members of the Huon Valley who have been impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic. This is a free service, with phone and video chat appointments available. This service is delivered by Ruth Neumann, a Social Worker working from the Huon Valley Health Centre. 

Mobile: 0491 201 769

Email: r.neumann@huonvalleyhealthcentre.com.au

Facebook: facebook.com/HuonBushfireRecoveryCounselling

RAW: Rural Alive and Well – 6254 1092  or for urgent calls 1300 4357 6283 

Lifeline – 13 11 14

Beyond Blue 1300 224 636

1800 Respect – 1800 737 732 Support for those impacted by family violence and sexual assault

Housing Connect – 1800 800 588

This service is funded by the Australian Government, through the Department of Health’s Primary Health Network program.