Mental health professionals have provided advice for people struggling due to anxiety around coronavirus.
Mental health professionals have provided advice for people struggling due to anxiety around coronavirus.

‘Worry about what you can control’

WITH coronavirus dominating the headlines and filling social networking feeds, you can’t be blamed for feeling overwhelmed or anxious about the current state of the world.

However, Whitsunday mental health professionals have reassured residents there are ways to help themselves, as well as their children, tackle these concerns.

Psychologist HMM Health Nathan Harriott from said it was natural to feel anxious about the unknowns associated with coronavirus.

As the situation continues to unfold, he said one of the most important things people could do was make sure they had an accurate source of information.

“There’s some pretty standard advice around at the moment in the psychology community, and the first is about getting a clear understanding about what’s actually going on,” he said.

Mr Harriott said going to Australian Government websites or the World Health Organisation for updates rather than social media was important.

Another key message from Mr Harriott was to try and keep things in perspective.

“There’s lots of information out there and it’s all over the news, so that can create a little bit of stress, worry and anxiety for people and it can be easy for it to feel like it’s worse than what it is,” he said.

“Instead of imagining the worst case scenario and worrying about those sort of things, it’s probably more helpful to ask ‘Am I getting ahead of myself?’ and ‘Am I assuming that something really bad is going to happen when maybe I don’t know what the outcome is going to be?’

“A lot of people are underestimating the actual resources and their ability to cope with difficult situations.

“Three years ago, we dealt with Cyclone Debbie and that obviously shook the community around a fair bit, but most people banded together and have supported each other to get through those stressful events.

“We’ve got some ways and means we can help ourselves to cope in a reasonably uncertain time.”

Mr Harriott also said it could be a particularly anxious time for children who may not completely understand what was going on.

His advice for parents was simple; answer any questions your children have honestly and try to reduce exposure.

“Kids’ ears pick up lots of things we’re listening to,” he said.

“Try and limit some exposure to media reports, if you keep a constant stream going all day you’re probably getting too much exposure.

“Children often take a lot of their guidance from how we behave as adults, so when you’re having those sorts of discussions you want to do so in a fairly calm manner.

“If the children see you being calm about it, they’re more likely to be calm about it themselves as well.”

For people who are self-isolating there are also measures to take to maintain good physical and mental health.

Counsellor at Whitsunday Counselling and Support Charlotte Jones said among these was maintaining a routine and staying social through different means.

“I would definitely just try to keep in contact with people over the phone, through social media and text messaging,” she said.

“Keep a routine as much as you can, if you normally get up at 8am and go for a run, get up at 8am and do an indoor workout.

“Keep eating a healthy, balanced diet as you normally would and try to avoid excessive drinking, I know it’s tempting when you’ve got nothing to do tomorrow.

“And reaching out to people when you need them is probably the most crucial thing.

“Worry about what you can control, and that’s yourself in this situation. Have confidence in the fact that there are the best people in the health profession working day and night to find a way to prevent this and to slow it down.

“It’s going to be over one day. This isn’t going to be forever, so take each day as it comes.”

Several psychologists and support services will be available for phone and Skype consultations for people in self-isolation.

Other support services such as Lifeline and Beyond Blue will also continue to provide around-the-clock support to people in need.

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636


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