With the news full of stories on Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, it is important to avoid becoming panicked or overwhelmed. While our local community is reporting cases of the virus, we urge you to take reasonable precautions, understanding that medical experts are working to contain the virus. The team at the Clinical Psychology Centre has gathered our suggestions on how best to maintain a sense of calm during the Coronavirus outbreak.
A proactive approach to our health
Whether we are in a time of global concern over Coronavirus, or just in the midst of a standardly busy week, we all know that self-care is important. But do you take the time to maintain your health through steps that integrate into day-to-day life?
- Keep hands clean – washing hands with soap or using hand sanitisers regularly throughout the day and always before eating.
- Don’t shake hands, or wash your hands if you do – try elbow bumps instead – it’s catching on.
- Don’t touch your face – it’s the easiest way for germs to enter your body.
- Cover your mouth and nose – with a tissue or cough or sneeze into your elbow if needed.
- Keep a healthy distance – proactively avoid people who are unwell.
- Book in for your flu shot – keeping up with flu shots gives your body it’s best chance to ward off other flus. This reduces the risk of you being hit with a flu and improves your chances of recovering quickly.
- Sleep and stay mindful – reducing stress increases your body’s ability to mound an effective immune response.
- Eat well – eating a balanced diet boosts you immune system.
- Exercise – increasing your fitness boosts your body’s natural virus killing cells to speed up recovery
- Avoid smoking – smoking causes inflammatory changes in your lungs that divert your immune system from fighting infections.
- Stay home – if you have flu symptoms, even if symptoms are mild, seek medical advice before returning to work.
- Remote sessions – we can always schedule phone or video sessions. If you are unwell, or you or your immediate family have been to COVID-19 hotspots, please let us know.
Maintaining positive mental health
The constant stream of updates on Coronavirus with the increasing number of people infected across the world can make it hard to maintain a positive and healthy outlook. To keep this information in perspective, we suggest you carefully select your sources to avoid sensationalist or inaccurate interpretations of the situation.
For up-to-date information, contact one of these trusted sources:
- The Australian Government Department of Health at www.health.gov.au
- The Public Health Information Line on 1800 004 599
- Our local public health agency: 1300 066 055
In addition to this, some of the same tips that relate to maintaining your physical health will assist you in feeling more positive mentally as well. These include avoiding alcohol consumption and illicit drug use, keeping active and eating well. Additionally, spending time with people you love, expressing your feelings regularly and acquiring new skills will also help you to feel your best mentally.
Keeping a balanced perspective on health concerns
Worry is understandable when we are exposed to anything threatening. If this worry is all consuming and thoughts of ill-health or dying are dominating your thinking, there are certainly things that we can suggest to assist you with this.
Reminding yourself of the positive steps that are being taken to reduce the likelihood of the outbreak of the virus here in Australia and sticking to the facts about rates of recovery can help. When we stick to the facts, it helps us to think more rationally and helps us to keep our stress and worry down. To read more about anxiety, and health anxiety in particular, check out guide to anxiety here.
Helping our children
As parents and caregivers, we recognize that when children pick-up details about news such as the Coronavirus they may become concerned. Research shows that being open and honest with children is the best approach to supporting their understanding of situations such as the Coronavirus. This honesty will also aid them to cope with the seriousness of the news.
At the Clinical Psychology Centre, we work with children and their families to help alleviate anxiety and to enhance resilience. It may be that your child who hasn’t experienced anxiety for some time has a recurrence due to the current concern over Coronavirus. Whether you’d like assistance in explaining the news to your child, or wish to have a session with your child to discuss other matters, we are always here to assist. Visit our Child and Adolescent page for more information on our services for youths.
Teleheath services at CPC
When it comes to mental health, large bodies of research show that sessions delivered via telephonic methods are effective. Our teleheath services include using Skype, Facetime, Microsoft teams, or the telephone. At the Clinical Psychology Centre, we are most pleased to provide effective care even if you are physically unwell or in quarantine due to recent travel or suspected exposure to Coronavirus.
Whist these services are available to everyone, we would particularly encourage those who are unwell or have come into contact with someone unwell, or travelled to Coronavirus hotspots to use our telehealth services.
We will always assume that you are attending your scheduled appointments in person unless you indicate otherwise. Please reply ‘Yes’ to your reminder text as usual. If you wish to use video or phone, you can let us know of your preference by replying to your text with the words Teams, Skype, Facetime or phone and providing your user details. At present, these sessions are not covered by Medicare. However we are working with our professional body and government to see whether the requirements for sessions to be face-to-face for Medicare rebates can be temporarily changed. We will update you if this occurs.