In January 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak of a new coronavirus disease, COVID-19, to be a ‘Public Health Emergency of International Concern’. WHO stated that there was a high risk of COVID-19 spreading to other countries around the world. By March 2020, WHO made the assessment that COVID-19 can be characterized as a pandemic.

Three months later in June 2020 COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing measures are still resulting in many Australians staying indoors and limiting their normal daily routines. This is not an easy situation for anyone to manage.

Queensland based supplier of Nurse Call Systems, Electrotek understands the criticality of providing care for carers. Theo Kuppens, Electrotek Managing Director explained: “While our unique INDUNA wireless Nurse Call System is changing the lives of nurses by negating alarm fatigue, our company actively supports and encourages mental self-care and coping strategies for all Australia’s paid and unpaid health carers.”

Some effective self-care and coping strategies for carers:

To be an effective carer you need to balance the health and wellbeing of the person you are caring for, with your own sense of wellness and fulfillment. You need time and space to look after yourself. Make sure you find opportunities to relax, have fun and take time out when you need it.

Some simple and helpful caring hints for carers:

  • As a carer keep up with your own coping strategies by taking time for yourself. This can be as simple as having a shower, taking a few deep breaths, lighting a candle, or having a cup of tea.
  • Limit the amount of COVID-19 news you are watching so it doesn’t become overwhelming. Twice a day for 10 minutes is healthy. Anything over that may be distressing.
  • Stay grounded by tuning in to your 5 senses a couple of times a day: what things can you hear, see, smell, feel, taste? This is a great way to ground yourself and be mindful of the little things that are happening around you, despite the uncertainty.
  • Try a creative hobby, such as drawing, journaling, writing, cooking, singing or dancing. 9 Schedule in some mindfulness every day, such as breathing exercises or download a mediation app or podcast.
  • If you have a pet, take the time to interact with it. Stroke, cuddle, talk and play with your pet.
  • Contact your GP for a mental health care plan if your anxiety is heightened. Due to COVID-19 regulations for health practitioners, please call your GP first to make an appointment.
  • Reach out to friends and family over the phone or try video calling. Having a friendly voice can calm you down and help shift perspective. Please reach out, you are not a burden.
  • Social Media is a great way to stay connected with family and friends.
  • Ask a friend to be a pen pal over email.

Some unexpected mental health positives to come out of COVID-19 – A message from the NSW Mental Health Commissioner Catherine Lourey 7th May 2020

“If COVID-19 can be thanked for anything, it might be for creating an unprecedented focus on mental health and promoting the community to take stock of what counts when it comes to mental wellbeing.

Some wonderful things have occurred amidst the overload of bad and heartbreaking news, things that could ultimately bring us back as a more cohesive and resilient society, positioning us to better deal with mental illness and guide us on how to better support each other generally.

The facts are almost half (45%) of adults will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives, and each year around one in five people will; but with the right information and support, most will get better or go on recovery journeys resulting in fulfilling and meaningful lives.

Sure, what we’re going through with COVID-19 is extreme, with people being affected in different ways. But understand there’s nothing unusual about feeling unsettled or anxious in the face of uncertainty – that’s part of being human. If it’s persistent or debilitating though, take the next steps – talk to a friend, your GP, a counselor, call a helpline or the 1800 011 511 Mental Health Line, a professional advice and referral service.

Thankfully, we’re far better informed and equipped as a society to deal with mental health issues. When we come through the other side of COVID-19, we’ll probably be another ten paces ahead, freer to engage with each other and have better senses of wellbeing and social connectedness.”

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Image: The Journal of Mental Health – Taking Care of Carers