How to keep your mental health in check while stuck at home

As Australia shifts to a more isolated life, mental health is one the most important things people need to look after.

The drastic changes to our regular way of life are unprecedented and can cause significant stress and anxiety.

Camden-based psychologist Simon Henry, from AT Full Potential, said it was of vital importance that locals looked after their mental wellbeing.

"The stresses that we are all facing as a result of the current situation are considerate and pervasive," he said.

"It is imperative that we look after our mental health, as well as the mental health of those around us, as we are more likely to emerge from the crisis where we demonstrate solidarity, show compassion and kindness, and maintain our sense of community."

Mr Henry highlighted a few ways people could keep their mental health in check while living in self isolation.

He said setting a fixed routine, allowing yourself time away from your housemates, maintaining normal sleep patterns and keeping up fitness were great strategies.

"One of the biggest difficulties that people are likely to find is the sudden change in everyday routine," he said.

"It can be useful for people to look at ways to introduce routine within their isolation - this could be creating movie nights, or having a time when they phone a friend or have a video call with family members outside the home.

"This can be especially important for school-aged children, who may struggle with a very different daily routine compared to the order of a typical school day."

Mr Henry said avoiding getting bogged down in the flood of information readily available was another key strategy for staying on top of your mental health.

"Information overload can be an issue as it can trigger anxiety," he said.

"Making sure that people are well informed (by reputable sources) while also allowing some time away from the news is encouraged.

"Managing worst-case scenario thinking and keeping perspective are important, as our thoughts can sometimes make us think that worse things are worse than they actually are.

"Taking a moment to challenge our thoughts - 'am I thinking that something will definitely happen even though there is no evidence to say it will' or 'am I overestimating how bad the consequences might be' - can be helpful in getting our perspective back."

Mr Henry said feelings of anxiety or depression were "normal responses" to the situation in these uncertain times.

He encouraged people to be confident in sharing their thoughts and concerns with friends and family, or a dedicated telehealth/online counselling and support service.

"Encouraging friends or family members who seem to be having a difficult time coping to talk about their concerns and to let them know that these are normal and understandable responses given the circumstances can be helpful," Mr Henry said.

"If they feel more assistance might be needed, they would be encouraged to talk to their GP and a referral may be discussed to local health services who can provide assistance and support.

"I would also emphasise the importance of maintaining our sense of community, and that this too may need to be approached differently but is critical in maintaining our connections to others."

Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander said it was natural for people to be feeling anxious during these and he also encouraged open conversations about these very understandable concerns.

"For people who have existing anxiety disorders, these feelings can be 1000 times worse," he said.

"They're going to need a lot of support in this time.

"Everyone needs to remember that they're not alone in this time and that anxious feelings are a completely natural response."

Read the full interview with Simon Henry here.