Victor Harbor Clinical Psychologist Lisa McCombe shares professional opinions on coping with COVID

PROFESSIONAL: Lisa McCombe has a Masters of Applied Psychology (Clinical) and 20 years experience in private practice.

PROFESSIONAL: Lisa McCombe has a Masters of Applied Psychology (Clinical) and 20 years experience in private practice.

COVID 19 Lockdown has provided many challenges for communities all around the world and one of the biggest impacts has been mental health.

Lisa McCombe has a Masters of Applied Psychology (Clinical) and 20 years experience in private practice.

Her practice is in Victor Harbor and said the challenges facing the community during lockdown include uncertainty which leads to feelings of worry and concern about the future, isolation and social distancing, particularly separation from loved ones and social support network and loss of freedom and reduced income can lead to boredom, fear, worry, anxiety, frustration and more catastrophic thinking.

"There could be interpersonal difficulties and family tension," Ms McCombe said.

"It is normal to have feelings of worry and concern in the face of stressful events, but also important to understand your feelings and know there are things you can do to ease them.

"When we are feeling stressed we tend to imagine the worst possible thing that could happen and underestimate how we will cope. So it is important to do those things that help us to remain calm, rein in our worrisome thoughts and remind ourselves this is not forever."

To cope with restrictions Ms McCombe recommended to seek out information from reliable sources such as Australian Government health alert or state government websites.

"The Australian Psychological Society (APS) is a source of information and the public can visit psychology.org.au

"But it is important to keep things in perspective by sticking to facts, not what if's and minimise exposure to media if feeling overwhelmed by reports of COVID," Ms McCombe said.

"Remember we can tolerate uncertainty (do so every day) and try not to equate uncertainty with bad outcomes.

"We need to focus on what we can do, stay connected to family and friends via phone, internet, or write an email or letter, minimise household tension by creating a fair roster of chores, remain respectful of one another in times of conflict - if need be, walk away until you can speak calmly and identify activities you enjoy and participate in them such as cooking, gardening, movies, reading, board games, creating art works, jigsaws, keep a COVID diary or scrapbook."

Ms McCombe said sharing positive experiences was a must and communicate your worries and concerns and rein in catastrophic thoughts.

"If working from home try to create a dedicated workspace free from distractions, practice relaxation / meditation, take reasonable and recommended precautions to remain safe such as - handwashing, wearing masks, avoid touching your face and social distancing and ensure you get rest,"

Ms McCombe said it was important to reassure children that it would be alright and be positive with your messaging.

"For children reassure and discuss COVID restrictions calmly, ask what they know and clarify any misinformation, maintain a daily routine as this will help them cope with change and feel safe," she said.

"Ensure a wide range of activities and fun; create art works and exhibition at home, play dress ups and have a fashion parade, play banks /shops with tins from kitchen cupboards and different customer's -happy worried difficult customers! Make a cubby in the garden using outdoor chairs and blankets, running races in the garden."

Ms McCombe said technology would play a role in contacting loved ones and to stay connected.

"Maintain contact using media such as Skype, Face time or Zoom to allow them contact with friends and loved ones, such as grandparents they may be worried about. For teenagers - avoid over exposure to screen time to minimise anxiety," Ms McCombe said.

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