Understandably, the challenges associated with social distancing and isolation are leading some people to experience feelings of anxiety, boredom, frustration and fear.
icare's Head of Research Dr Caroline Howe says keeping yourself physically apart from other people can be tough but we all need to do everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"Some Australians see self-isolation as an act of love that keeps oneself, friends and family safe," Dr Howe said.
"We all have a personal responsibility to keep safe and help stop the spread of the virus and that requires putting some distance between ourselves and other people, but humans are social beings and social isolation over time has a negative impact on our physical and mental health. As such we need to go to much more effort to stay connected but in far more innovative and creative ways."
"That's why right now, it’s even more important to maintain your social connections to help keep your spirits up and collectively support one another. We need to remember that staying apart will ironically be the best way to stay together."
As Australia comes to grips with social distancing, it's reassuring to know there are still some simple ways to nurture our social connections with people at work and in the wider community.
"Who can forget the scenes of Italians singing to their neighbours from balconies?"
"Far from being isolated while in quarantine, Latin songbirds connected with their neighbours with their heart and soul as they did their bit to contain the virus," Dr Howe said.
As we get through COVID-19 together, what are the ways you will stay socially connected?
Dr Howe's tips for maintaining your mental health and staying socially connected when you're practising social distancing or in quarantine
See beyond COVID-19
If you have lost your job or own a small business that’s had to close due to the pandemic, try to maintain a positive, proactive mindset. Take stock of your financial affairs and apply online for government assistance to get you and your dependants through. It's a good idea to advise your bank and creditors; and small business owners can talk to their accountant to get financial advice.
Manage your stress levels
First and foremost avoid difficult situations. Exercise your body, meditate, and keep to a daily routine as much as you can. If you or another family member feels anxious, focus on the positive stuff you have in your life to shift your mood and begin to feel better.
Set a routine
Get out of your pyjamas and structure your day. Create a sense of routine and normality in the day for you and the people who you live with.
If you have access to it, use technology to stay in touch. A phone chat or a video call can brighten up someone’s day. Kids can contribute by posting selfies with their drawings or handwritten letters. If you are in a lockdown situation, use this time to improve your existing relationships.
It's not just family and friends who require support
Showing kindness to others not only helps them but can also increase your own sense of purpose and value, improving your own wellbeing. Using technology to stay connected with older neighbours is a great way to check in on them without putting them at risk. You could even put their online shopping order in from your place and have it delivered to theirs.
Multi-tasking and working from home
Ensure you have fun with the kids to make sure you’re catering to their emotional needs; because how they feel during this time will stay with them into adulthood. Forget about keeping the house tidy for a while and throw the sofa cushions on the lounge room floor and make a campsite or have a picnic.
Use your time in lockdown or quarantine well
Enrol in an online education course, read a book or listen to a podcast, learn more about another language, watch a funny movie or sitcom.
Think about how you can interact with others without putting your health (or theirs) at risk. Whether you’re home alone, wrangling the kids or caring for a senior citizen, share a joke or sing a favourite tune because who among us can resist a good tune?
Useful phone numbers and links
Lifeline - 13 11 14
Beyond Blue - 1300 224 636
Centrelink - 13 24 68
icare - 13 44 22
Healthdirect Australia - 1800 022 222
- How to stay connected with your colleagues while working at home - Zenefits
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Australians - Australian Psychological Society