Deniliquin Pastoral Times

Look after you

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With all the concern of physical health as the Delta variant leaks into regional areas, Deniliquin Mental Health Awareness Group is urging residents to also look after their mental health.

MHAG member Lourene Liebenberg (pictured) said there is no easy answer to coping with the uncertaint­y of an extended lockdown, but everyone should remember to ‘‘take the pressure off’’.

‘‘To feel uncertain and anxious about what happens next is a normal emotion people will have, because we simply do not know what we will be able to do tomorrow, or next week, or next month,’’ Mrs Liebenberg said.

‘‘The reality is that these emotions and feelings we have now become a constant for many people, which can lead to feelings of helplessne­ss and having no sense of control.

‘‘This situation, these restrictio­ns and the impact of this over a prolonged time is nothing we have been prepared for or gone through before.’’

One example is the repeated cancellati­on and rescheduli­ng of team sports, but there is a lot people can do to remain social and continue exercising for their mental and physical wellbeing.

Fishing, running, walking, cycling and golfing are activities Mrs Liebenberg recommends, all of which can be done socially distanced with those you live with or one person outside your home.

She also encouraged people to connect with their friends virtually, with a virtual games night one suggestion.

As for men’s mental health, which often relies on social events over a cold drink or at clubs like the Menshed, Mrs Liebenberg said one remedy is picking up the phone to chat to a friend to arrange to meet a mate to do one of the exercise or recreation activities with.

There are some chat-lines that can be useful to reach out to such Beyond Blue or MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978.

She said those that ‘‘struggle to see the sense of restrictio­ns’’ might feel angry or outraged, but she urges people to gain perspectiv­e.

‘‘For some it is affecting their livelihood­s, their ability to see family and their ability to take their holidays.

‘‘All of these emotions, if not managed, can really play havoc with our emotional and mental health.’’

For parents who are taking on at-home learning, Mrs Liebenberg recommends reaching out to teachers or year advisors and said they should not ‘‘beat themselves up’’ if they’re finding it difficult to manage.

Parents should encourage high school students who can learn on their own to maintain a normal routine and timetable as they would at school.

‘‘If we are struggling to get to everything done for our younger kids, just try and maintain some routine. If that means not getting to all schoolwork, that is okay.’’

Mrs Liebenberg said taking short breaks is important for both children and adults. Going outside or playing a game will help manage anxiety and feelings of being overwhelme­d.

She said the benefit of living in a regional area is that a forest walk or playing on the family farm is an option for many.

‘‘Everyone is allowing for some flexibilit­y during this time, and we do not have to feel that we need to be perfect at getting this right all of the time. This is not a sign of weakness; it is simply saying I might not have all the tools to work my way through this.’’

She said reaching out for help is part of our self-care.

‘‘It’s also about shifting our mindset — focus on what you can control, rather than the things we have no control over. Once we do that, then we can focus our decisions on the things we have control or choice over.”

Anyone requiring crisis support can contact Accessline on 1800 800 944 , Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Kids Helpline on 1800 551 800. Informatio­n is also available at www.denimental­health.org.au.

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