Wellbeing in uncertain times

Living in Mansfield, North East Victoria, we have experienced an unpredictable start to 2020.

First, we were threatened by bushfires and had to deal with very poor air quality due to the smoke. I personally experienced asthma. Previously, not having considered myself to be an asthmatic, it was, at times, distressing.

Then we had terrifying storms, ripping through our little town upending trees and causing property damage. At one stage we had a power blackout for 22 hours due to storms.

Now we have the Corona virus to contend with. This is causing anxiety about the potential threat to the lives of our elderly or immune compromised and having a devastating effect on our economy.

Fortunately, we have not seen the bad behaviour reported in city supermarkets. I believe there is more of a community spirit in a country town.

Personally, what I am experiencing is a sense that we can no longer be certain about things that we previously took for granted.

With such an unprecedented bushfire season, our emergency services and fire-fighting resources were stretched to maximum. There was also a feeling that the leadership of our government was disconnected to the devastating effect of the bushfires. And fears that climate change is not being addressed.

Losing power for 22 hours really brought home our reliance on centralised power. Everything we do relies on this. My thoughts at the time were about how much we depend on on reliable electricity supply for everything we do in our modern life.

The threat of Corona virus has brought about mass anxiety throughout the world. The news is constantly bombarding us with the latest death toll and the ever-increasing rate of infection.

There are fears that our health services will not be able to cope if the infection rate spikes beyond our resources.

How do we cope with living with the anxiety and uncertainty of these times?

It helps to regain some sense of control

  • Doing the things that we know can help to reduce the rate of infection, such as hand washing and social distance.
  • Looking after your general health. Eating well, staying active, having regular sleep patterns.
  • Looking after each other. Sharing your toilet rolls with someone you know who was not able to get any!
  • Making a plan for yourself and your loved ones if you do have to self isolate or quarantine. It helps to discuss this, write it down and have it as a working document that is agreed to. But allow it to flexible. It can be changed as any situation changes.

Be careful with your thoughts

  • Be aware if you’re starting to go the ‘worst possible scenario’. Ask yourself if it is helpful or unhelpful to think like this.
  • If you do need to think in a negative way to make a plan or avoid a negative outcome, then do so. But stop or put the plan aside when you have done all you can for this problem. It helps to write down what you are worried about. Also write down what action or solution you are taking for this. Even if it is to phone and check on someone you are worried about. Or even just to accept that somethings are out of your control.
  • Deliberately switch to reassuring thoughts if you notice your thoughts are full of doom and gloom. Thinking negatively will not help solve things that are out of your control. Feeding your anxiety will have a negative impact on your mental and physical health. Positive thoughts feel better as well. 😊

Stay updated and active

Do not allow yourself to be swept away with all the media hype. Limit how much news or information you read about the Corona virus. And only read or watch credible sources.

Watch a comedy. Go for a walk. Practice yoga. Do all the things that you usually would do that you enjoy AND that are within the guidelines put out by the health authorities.

Phone and support and encourage friends and relatives. Distract them from negative thinking.

Don’t forget to laugh! Keep your sense of humour! 😊

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Rachel Meadows