Counselling Service suggestions

05 April 2020

Looking after your mental health

The impact of the novel coronavirus on community mental health has been significant. Not only are we faced with concerns for our physical wellbeing, but we may be feeling isolated amid disruptions to our everyday lives and routines. The Notre Dame Counselling Service has put together some suggestions on managing your mental health during this difficult time.

Focus on the present and act mindfully

Oftentimes we can become overwhelmed by our ruminations about the past or our anxieties about the future. This is particularly the case in times of global strife or uncertainty, when we feel as though many things are out of our control. While these worries are normal, sometimes it helps to take a break and focus on the present moment and the things that are within our control. Try these steps:

  1. Accept your worries and anxious thoughts, remind yourself that they’re normal, and then move forward. Be patient and kind to yourself.
  2. Practice grounding yourself in the present moment. You can do this in a number of different ways, from short exercises to more formal practices. These include controlled breathing; noticing the things you can see, hear or touch in the space around you; muscle relaxation; mindfulness meditation; prayer; physical activity and sport or yoga. Try experimenting and seeing what works for you. The goal is to feel present and focused.
  3. Engage in meaningful action. Think about the things that are important to you, such as study, friendships, leisure, creative pursuits, and make room for these things in your life.

Make a routine

Going to work or university forces us to have a routine; we need to think about when we get up, make breakfast, catch the train, and our activities throughout the day. When we don’t have a routine sometimes we can begin to feel aimless and untethered. Consider making a timetable for yourself, even if you don’t write it down. Include time for lectures and study, but also for your hobbies, interests, and connecting with others.

Be creative

You might have to be adaptable — if your usual activities aren’t possible due to social distancing, try some creative alternatives. If soccer is good for your mental health, you may want to practice dribbling or work on your cardio. If you enjoy the arts, try painting, dancing or making music at home. It’s important to feel like we’re still connected to the things that are meaningful in our lives, even though we are living in a disrupted time.

If you’re finding it harder to focus on study, you’re not alone. It’s common to feel distracted when so much is going on in the world. Consider breaking your study into shorter, more regular chunks. For example, rather than trying to focus on an assignment for 2 hours straight, you might find it easier to do four 30-minute blocks with short breaks in between.

Reach out and learn more

The Counselling Service at Notre Dame remains open and available for free, confidential appointments for students. You can speak to a counsellor by phone or Zoom about whatever issues may be troubling you, and receive professional advice and support. You can find details of the service on your campus on the Notre Dame website.

The Department of Health’s Head to Health website also provides a number of resources for looking after your mental wellbeing at this time, along with links to other avenues of support.


Media Contact: Breyon Gibbs : +61 8 9433 0569 | breyon.gibbs@nd.edu.au