How to avoid the mental health pitfalls of COVID-19 isolation


zoom video conference call mental health covid-19 coronavirus pandemic
Photo: Zoom

Social connections with our fellow humans is not just something that adds richness to our lives. We actually need to do it for our mental health.

Social isolation can lead to underlying psychological issues becoming amplified or re-triggered. It can also add new psychological problems.

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Outcomes can include anxiety, depression, conflict, outbursts of anger, and generally responding uncharacteristically.

Even though we are being forced to do something that is inherently not good for our mental health, we’re fortunate that technology has given us the ability to effectively overcome this problem.

One important thing we can do to protect our mental health is continuing daily routines. This is one way of regaining a sense of control of our lives.

The best alternative to reduce social isolation is through video conversations with individuals or groups.

Although it’s good to talk over the phone, it’s not as effective as we miss a lot of the non-verbals that enriches our communication.

Texting doesn’t seem to help as much and it often leads to people misunderstanding each other causing distress and conflict.

Start off by finding out what platforms your friends and family are using, whether its Skype or Zoom, or apps such as House Party.

It’s then about planning and making the effort to make regular video contact with people you are close to.

Mental health strategies during COVID-19 isolation

Make sure you have quality and meaningful conversations with people you are close to. Talk about how you’re feeling about the challenges you are going through.

Balance these conversations with some positivity as well, such as what you both feel grateful for. This will be a massive buffer for you given how many are struggling with their mental health right now.

You can also have fun, laugh and listen to music through the Vertigo app that streams with your premium Spotify. This can be like you are all chatting at your favourite queer club on a Friday night.

Add Netflix Party as a Google Chrome extension and watch your favourite movies or TV series together with a group of friends.

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Explore transitioning your sex life over to video interactions.

Adding forms of exercise to your routine is also important. You can do things like online exercise classes, meditation, yoga or simply walking around your living space.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or down, or you’re having relationship issues, realise that this is natural during this time.

But it’s also important to know that if you avoid doing something about it, things can get worse quite quickly.

At the Centre for Human Human Potential we offer phone and online counselling appointments with a psychologist. For more information call (07) 3211 1117 or visit our website here.

Paul Martin is Senior Psychologist at the Centre for Human Potential (CFHP) in Brisbane.

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