Managing stress during the COVID-19 outbreak 20 March 2020 The outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is a stressful and challenging time for many. Diabetes Australia wants you to know we are here to help and support you. We know that the daily news about the virus is difficult to hear and the social changes that are being put in place are confronting. But we hope above all else that everyone can come together – as Australians usually do when we are under pressure – and extend extra kindness, patience and care for each other at this time. While we can’t control everything that is going on around us, we can control how we choose to look after ourselves. Now is the time to choose to control what you can control, be it your sleep, stress, social environment or what you choose to eat. A sense of control helps us feel calmer, more relaxed and less stressed. What can you control? There are things that you can do to help you stay safer so focusing on these is very helpful. Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly. Sing happy birthday twice while you wash. Take your vitamins and medication and eat a healthy diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. What makes you feel safe? Make positive choices about gatherings and social events for example, by limiting your exposure you will feel safer. News and information In these uncertain times the best we can do is avoid panicking, follow the official health advice, and monitor government advisories. There is a lot of information and rumour out there, some of it accurate and some of it is opinion and scaremongering. Limit the amount of time and the quantity of information that you attend to. While it’s important to stay informed, too much information can be overwhelming and stressful. It is important to get your information from reliable sources such as: Department of Health’s Coronavirus Information Page World Health Organization – coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Get some fresh air Getting some fresh air and some Vitamin D will help you think more clearly. Try and sit on your balcony or in your garden if you have one, or take a walk around the block. Exercise will also help with both your physical and mental health. Reach out to support others in need Research shows that by helping others such as the elderly, or the isolated we feel less anxious and happier. Maybe you could cook a meal for a neighbour, help them with their shopping or buy them a coffee to show them they have your support. Stay in the present Worry is about what has, or what might happen. Challenge yourself to stay in the present moment. Deal with the here and now. What have you been putting off for a while because you haven’t had the time? Can you take advantage of the extra time that you have because of cancelled events to cook, paint or repair, learn to meditate or tend to the garden? There is no point worrying about what might happen. Prepare yourself, but focus on what you can control. If you feel worried, focus your attention on what you can see, hear and feel. Think of three things in each category. It will help you come back to the present. Reach out if you need support Talk to friends, family and neighbours. Most people are keen to support those in need. If you feel particularly anxious or are struggling with your mental health, reach out to your doctor or another health professional. Diabetes Australia has a team of health professionals that can support you including a Psychologist. Call our Helpline on 1800 177 055 and ask to speak to a Diabetes Educator, Dietician, Exercise Physiologist or our Diabetes Counselling Service.