It’s a contradiction country people know all too well. The further apart we are, the more essential our connections become.

When you live on a farm, the truck that brings you into town, the wires that keep your lights and wifi on, even your mailbox can all become life lines. You learn not to take your connections to the outside world for granted.

Today we’re all living in this reality. COVID-19 has forced us to physically distance ourselves from friends and family and remain largely confined to the home for the sake of the community’s health. And it’s no small sacrifice.

According to this ABC article, Monash University professor of global health Jane Fisher says the ways coronavirus has turned our lives upside down are so pervasive that society is grieving from the loss.

“Things like not being able to participate in meaningful work, engage socially with friends and family, and move about freely … These are very serious losses,” Professor Fisher said.

“It’s normal for us all to be feeling this sense of sadness about what it is we can’t do, can’t experience, can’t engage with.”

With potentially months of social distancing ahead of us, how can we cope with all these changes and make sure we have something to look forward to when the pandemic is over?

That’s what #InThisTogether is all about – practical ways we can look after our own and others mental health as we live more physically distant lives. Let’s take a look at a few #InThisTogether tips for staying healthy.

Follow the facts – thanks to the internet, social media and the 24 hour news cycle, it’s easy to become bogged down with both information and misinformation at all hours of the day.

“When we get a media overload, especially a social media overload, that can actually increase our anxiety. And it is a good opportunity to give yourself permission to step away from that every day,” said HealthWISE mental health clinician Kate Stewart.

“Because at the moment we can’t change any of this, we’ve just got to go with the flow.”

Routine helps – the simple things like getting up and dressed at a good time and eating healthy can make a huge difference when staying at home.

For those working at home, Kate says boundaries are very important. “Devote parts of your house to relaxation or rest. Don’t do your daytime work in rooms where you should be having fun or relaxing,” she says. “Don’t check your work at night time or on weekends unless you really have to.”

Keep kids communicating – youngsters are emotionally sensitive and will pick up on your anxieties, so it’s important to keep them in the loop.

“It is ok to talk it out, and it’s ok to say to children that we don’t have all of the answers right now,” Kate said. She recommends using your time at home to go back to basics – plant a veggie garden with the kids or pull out a game of monopoly – make the most of the extra time you have.

These are just a few ways we can stay balanced during these turbulent times.
Other great #InThisTogether tips include:
– talk don’t just type
– take a break
– get sweaty (exercise)
– financial stress is real – talk about it
– play your part
– stay connected
– check in & be kind to yourself
– helpers need help too
– reach out to those who may not have connections.

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