During these challenging times, being stressed, tense, or afraid almost feels like second nature. JCU Manager of Student Equity and Wellbeing, Larissa Siliézar, shares her top tactics for keeping calm during the COVID-19 crisis. These can work at home, in the workplace, or wherever you’re social distancing. Prioritise your mental health by implementing some peaceful practice.
Stop and smell the coffee
There’s nothing quite as good as the first coffee in the morning. While it’s tempting to quickly check some emails or the news while you sip your brew, Larissa likes using this as a chance to sneak in some self-care by “actually sitting there and enjoying the time”. Use the time to focus on things outside of self-isolation that can bring you some happiness in a quiet moment.
Turn it up
It’s no secret that music makes us feel good. Larissa recommends harnessing the power of your favourite tune for a two-minute mental reset. Have a roommate or office mate? Slide on your headphones and enjoy your tune in peace. Take the chance to let it all go for a moment – go all out and get your body moving to the beat!
Breathe it in
Taking a few deep breaths can help you “refocus and can help reduce anxiety and stress,” Larissa says. Try the 2-to-1 breathing method, which is exhalation at a duration twice as long as inhalation. This method regulates the motion of the lungs and decreases nerve activity in the sympathetic nervous system (which is used for physical activity and exertion) and increases the influence of the parasympathetic nervous system (which regulates the relaxation response). The best part is that it’s “something you can do at any point”. Next time you’re worried about quarantines or toilet paper rolls, try quelling those nerves with a few deep breaths.
A chaotic work or living space can often lead to a chaotic mind. If you find yourself struggling to finish tasks or be motivated to get off your couch, then channel your inner Marie Kondo for a quick mental reset. For Larissa, this tactic is about “breaking routine” for a moment and letting your brain breathe, because “clutter can be quite distressing and induce more stress for people”. Try switching off Netflix for a while and create a better space for your chill.
Walk it out
Stretch those legs and escape the clutches of your office chair or sofa with a quick walk. A combination of the fresh air, sunshine, and movement can help get your brain back on track. Additionally, exercise and air are good for your health. “This is something that, living in Cairns and Townsville, we are very lucky with,” Larissa says. “It can be as simple as taking yourself for a walk around your block.”
These tactics are great ways to prioritise your mental health and find some calm in a storm. But sometimes, they aren’t enough.
Talk it out
Larissa says her key message is to reach out. “If people are doing everything to try and maintain their wellbeing and still aren’t travelling well – reach out to somebody.” That could be a friend, a family member, or even a trusted academic or supervisor. Don’t forget that there are services available on campus to support students.
If you, or someone you know, is struggling with mental health, help is available at Beyond Blue or phone Lifeline on 13 11 14. JCU students seeking help can also book sessions with the free JCU Counselling Service.
If you’re passionate about the importance of mental health, consider JCU Psychology.
Need some help making the online switch? Check out our tips for Learning Online.
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