The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can be stressful and impact mental health and wellbeing. “It’s natural to feel a range of emotions, such as stress, worry, anxiety, boredom, or low mood.” (heathtohealth).

Here at atWork Australia we support people with depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions into meaningful work. Good mental health is something our team is passionate about, as we have seen firsthand how positive mental health can impact an individual’s life.

When the coronavirus pandemic started some of our team moved to a remote working environment and others remained working on-site, with social distancing in place. Like everyone, our atWork Australia team had to adapt quickly to a “new normal” in life.

We recently spoke to some of our teams around Australia to see how they are supporting their own mental health through COVID-19.

In Victoria, the team are getting creative to add some fun to their remote, online meetings by adding Pantone colours to their Zoom backgrounds.

Ben from Victoria shared “We just like to have some fun and do some personal storytelling in the afternoon, helps us all unwind and reflect on our work, individually and as a team.”

Not only are the Victorian team having fun, but they are also gaining benefits from smiling, such as stress relief. As Wendy Whitehead explains in her article the ‘The Psychological Benefits of Smiling’, smiling helps us to feel better due to the releasing of endorphins.

Monica, a Job Coach from Queensland has been getting creative and keeping busy to keep her mental health in check.

“During this time, I’ve been keeping my mental health in a good place by keeping busy. Since the gyms are closed, I have been taking scenic walks with my dog and partner. While I am at home, I have been painting old pots to repurpose them and have been creating little accessories to keep my creative spirit going. I also have my wedding coming up at the end of the year so the pandemic has given me more time to plan and create things that I didn’t have time for before.” Finding things to be grateful for through this time can also help. Monica sums up her time living through the pandemic and living her life by the quote “when it rains, look for the rainbow.”

Yvette, a Job Coach in our New South Wales team has been baking to support her mental health, “Baking helps me as I find it comforting. I love experimenting in the kitchen, which helps my creative side, and my family and friends love it as they get to eat the finished product.”

Julian, a Job Coach from Victoria has been keeping active, getting outside, and fuelling his body with fresh food to support his mental health.

“I’m keeping very healthy, actually healthier than prior to lockdown by skipping 3-5 times per week, riding my bike to work or walking, going for a 5-6km run three times per week and eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.”

Health Direct explains how “exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. It can also get you out in the world, help to reduce any feelings of loneliness and isolation, and put you in touch with other people.” You could also try to introduce exercise, in whatever way that makes you feel comfortable, to improve your mental health during social distancing or isolation.

Doug, a Job Coach from South Australia is finding comfort in little things that have always helped him to destress.

“Simple things like sitting on the couch binging my favourite Netflix show with my fiancé next to me and our cat, Spock, snuggled between us. It gives me time to just relax and not think about anything other than what is happening right then and being close to the ones I love.”

Dr. Travis Bradberry shares when trying to find happiness, finding something in your day that triggers a feeling of gratitude can be useful.

Jo in Tasmania has been trying to keep routine, connect with her loved ones, and do some DIY projects at home.

“The way I have been working on my mental health has been to maintain normal life as much as possible, with video contact with my children and grandchildren and by making it a little different and being able to laugh. The other way is by keeping my work week as normal as possible, early morning walks with my dog Muffin at beautiful quiet times, maintaining normal routine and utilising the opportunity of working from a home office, this way I  focus on different things of a weekend like painting and moving around things for a better flow around the house.”

Maintaining a healthy routine can also support your mental health, Dr. Steve Orma, a Clinical Psychologist who specialises in treating insomnia, anxiety, and stress reveals that implementing a routine is a large aspect of supporting his clients who are experiencing anxiety or changing circumstances (HeadSpace).

Check out our strategies for self-care here, to see some tips to support your own mental health during the new normal of the coronavirus pandemic. Our holistic services are here to help too.

Interested to know more about atWork Australia including who we support and how we provide practical and holistic support via our Disability Employment Services? Call us on 1300 080 856 or click here.

References:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/changepower/201607/10-ways-make-yourself-happier-in-30-seconds-or-less

https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19

https://www.headspace.com/blog/2016/08/22/the-secret-benefit-of-routines-it-wont-surprise-you/

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/exercise-and-mental-health