As the world tries to understand what is occurring, we would like to share some tips for staying healthy, physically and emotionally.
*Take time for yourself
Sometimes it can feel that everyone you care about needs something done right now. They are important to you and therefore what they need is important, however you are just as important and therefore we need to look after ourselves. We need to take time for ourselves, this might be going into your back yard for 5 to 10 minutes or sitting in your favourite chair. This might be reflecting on what you’re feeling or thinking about what you would like to do. It doesn’t have to be a long time; it just has to be about you.
*Do something you enjoy
Spending time with your family is important and doing what people want you to do can also be important, but doing something you enjoy is just as important. Make sure that you do something you enjoy every day. It doesn’t have to be big, it might be reading a few pages of a book, drawing, painting, watching an episode of your favourite TV show, have a bath or whatever it may be that you enjoy doing.
*Talk to your loved ones
In difficult times it is important to have those close to you nearby. If you’re unable to physically see someone you love right now that doesn’t mean that you can’t have connection in another way. You can have connection in multiple ways including telephone, text messages, Facebook, video call (through Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Zoom, Skype etc.).
*Acknowledge how you feel
During difficult times it is important to acknowledge how you feel. If you try to push these feelings aside, they begin to build up and when this occurs, they become so big and overwhelming that it becomes harder to deal with them. When you feel something, if you acknowledge it, talk yourself through it or talk to someone close to you, generally you can figure out what you can do. If you are struggling and would like to talk to someone else there are people available. You can call Lifeline on 131 114 or the Mental Health Helpline on 1800 332 388 (free call).
One way to help your mental and physical health is to eat healthy. Make sure you have plenty of fruits and vegetables. The Australian Healthy Eating guidelines are:
Eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from the five food groups and drink plenty of water every day!
The five (5) food groups are:
- Grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
- Vegetables and legumes/beans
- Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds and legumes/beans
- Milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat
Always drink plenty of water and try to avoid having too much of any other drink, especially caffeinated drinks including coke and coffee. Our body is roughly 60% water, which we are constantly losing and therefore this is what our body craves. It is recommended to avoid dehydration, a person (14 years +) should consume 8 glasses (8x250ml) of water per day, which equals 2 litres. Due to our children being smaller they should drink less water than us and babies less than 12 months should get their water intake from breastmilk/formula. A child 1 year to 3 years should drink no more than 4 glasses (4x250ml) of water a day, which equals 1 litre, this is not extra to their breastmilk/formula but includes these as well. For a child of this age getting them to drink small amounts of water throughout the day helps create healthy habits for later in life. Children aged 4 to 8 years should drink roughly 1.3 litres of water per day (approximately 5x250ml glasses of water). Children 9 to 13 years should drink roughly 1.5 litres of water per day (approximately 6x250ml glasses of water).
Exercise is important to stay physically healthy but also mentally healthy. Exercise releases natural endorphins, which is the chemical that triggers positive feelings in the body. There are multiple exercises that can be done in the comfort of your own home without any extra equipment. These exercises may consist of; walking around your house a few times, using your inside or outside steps, weights using tinned food, sit ups, pushups, squats. Many exercises are available on the internet, always speak with a medical professional before performing any exercise more than walking.
*Move every 20 minutes
Generally, when we are at home or at work, we spend a lot of time sitting and not moving. It is important to move often; this doesn’t have to be much, and it doesn’t have to be for long but if you’re sitting you should at least stand every 20 minutes and stretch out your muscles. It is also recommended to have a walk around to help with this. Sometimes you can use these times to have a glass of water, make yourself a cup of tea or go to the bathroom.
Like many, we all have those days where we start something and just never finish it. To help keep our minds clear and to keep order within our brains, it is best if we finish what we have started. This allows our brain to file this information away and not worry about it again. What can happen if we don’t finish a task is, unconsciously we remember it, and then worry about the fact it isn’t finished. The best way to avoid this: just finish the task we start.
*Stick to a routine
If you are unable to leave the house, it is important to try to stick to your usual routine. This means, getting up at the same time every day, getting dressed as if you were going somewhere, having breakfast, showering, cleaning teeth, making the bed, and getting ready for your day. Nothing about your routine needs to change just because you are no longer leaving the home. Also, if you don’t have a routine, now is the perfect time to start one. Routine helps our brain keep things in order and this is another way that will help our minds stay healthy.
*Get plenty of sleep
This tip is probably one of the most important, as during stressful times, it is usually our sleep that suffers the consequences. Sleep is extremely important and there are plenty of reasons why. If we do get enough sleep, we are less likely to eat more calories, improve our concentration and productivity, improve our immune function, have better mental health and increase our ability to have positive emotional and social interactions. For newborn babies to 3 months, they require at least 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day; 4 months to 11 months require 12 to 15 hours of sleep per day; 12 months to 2 years require 11 to 14 hours of sleep per day; 3 to 5 years require 10 to 13 hours of sleep per day; 6 to 13 years require 8 to 10 hours of sleep per day; and people over the age of 17 require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per day. While it is important to get enough sleep, it is also important to not have too much sleep. Sleeping a lot longer than the recommended hours can have impacts such as; cognitive impairment, depression, increased inflammation, increased pain, higher risk of obesity, higher risk of diabetes and higher risk of heart disease.
While the world moves to more online things in order to stay connected, keep in mind cyber and online safety. Schools are moving to a more online basis during this time and our children’s safety has become more important than ever. The world may be working differently, but unfortunately this means so could other things such as perpetrators and hackers.
Tips for helping ourselves stay safe online:
- Lock your device, like your tablet or phone: just like you lock your front door, use passwords and pass codes to lock your device to stop other people being able to access your information.
- Think before you act: ignore emails or communications that create a sense of urgency and require you to respond quickly (i.e. crisis or problem emails related to your bank or taxes, these types of messages are usually scams).
- If you’re in doubt, throw it out: if you receive an email or text message with a link and you don’t know what the link is for, or you’re not expecting is do not open it. This is how hackers usually get access to your personal information. Even if you know the person and the message doesn’t look right, it’s best just to delete.
- Create a strong password: Use uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers and special characteristics. Try a sentence (passphrase) to make it even harder for people to access (for example: YFCCis4w3s0m3!).
- Different everything: have separate passwords, pass codes and passphrases for all devices and all accounts. Try not to use the same one to avoid if you are hacked then they don’t know how to access all of your accounts.
- Write it down: when we have lots to remember we can often forget what we need to know. Therefore, write it down and keep it safe. Make sure that there is not a copy on any of your devices. Best if you use the good old piece of paper and pen and place it somewhere safe that you will remember where it is.
- Posts online last forever: be aware that whatever you post online can stay there forever. This includes pictures and messages, you may be sharing personal details with strangers without even knowing, including family details and where you live.
- Do to others as you would like for yourself: this applies online also. Only post things about other people that you would be happy to be posted about you.
- Own your online presence: It’s okay to limit who can see your information and what you share. Use privacy and security settings on all websites and social media.
Tips for helping our children stay safe online:
- Spend time online together to teach your kids appropriate online behaviour.
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor its use, not in individual bedrooms. Monitor any time spent on smartphones or tablets.
- Bookmark kids’ favourite sites for easy access.
- Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
- Use online protection where available, if possible, purchase online antivirus software such as Norton or McAfee.
- Take your child seriously if he or she reports an uncomfortable online exchange.
Basic guidelines to share with your kids for safe online use:
- Follow the family rules, and those set by the Internet service provider.
- Never post or trade personal pictures.
- Never reveal personal information, such as address, phone number, or school name or location.
- Use only a screen name and don’t share passwords (other than with parents).
- Never agree to get together in person with anyone met online without parent approval and/or supervision.
- Never respond to a threatening email, message, post, or text.
- Always tell a parent or other trusted adult about any communication or conversation that was scary, hurtful or with someone you have never met in person.
Watch for warning signs of a child being targeted by an online predator. These can include:
- spending long hours online, especially at night
- phone calls, emails, messages or videocalls from people you don’t know
- unsolicited gifts arriving in the mail
- your child suddenly turning off the computer when you walk into the room
- withdrawal from family life and reluctance to discuss online activities