Tips For Maintaining Your Mental Health Through Corona And Working From Home

The escalating CORONA virus situation is leading to natural increases in stress, worry and anxiety in many people.  The uncertainty associated with CORONA, the disruption to usual routines, the need for working from home or self-isolating can have significant impacts on your wellbeing and mental health.  If you or people close to you fall into a high-risk category, then your anxiety and mental health may be particularly impacted.

Please find below some basic tips on how to manage your mental health and wellbeing during this difficult time and how to manage working from home/self-isolation.

Set a Routine and try to stick to it

  • It’s important for wellbeing to keep a regular routine and try to keep it as normal as possible
  • Get up at a regular time, eat at regular times, work at regular times, and sleep at regular times
  • Make sure you make time for relaxation, exercise, fun and social contact – aim for a balance of these activities threaded throughout the day
  • Morning exercise is particularly helpful to assist with your mood through the day
  • Ensure you take mini-breaks to stretch/hydrate when working
  • Recognize the chance to set up a healthier routine
  • If you need to take care of children whilst working from home, try and set working times that are optimal for concentrating with kids around  (and liaise with your partner if they are also working from home to organize schedules to optimize both your working time and demands)

Managing Working from home

  • Keeping regular routines around work – set regular work and break times
  • Ideally with your accommodation allowing – try to set a separate workspace aside which minimize interruptions from kids
  • Consider when meetings are and develop your work schedule around this – writing in the morning, meetings in the afternoon etc?
  • Let go of anxiety/expectations re things that you can’t control (e.g. postponed clinical trials), and focus on what you can control and what is achievable
  • Set yourself achievable weekly goals, and daily goals to work towards
  • Continue meetings with colleagues and students and teams via zoom

Managing Stress

  • Exercise regularly
  • Practice mindfulness, yoga or relaxation at home, using online resources
  • Eat healthy food and moderate your use of caffeine and alcohol
  • Ensure you get sufficient sleep
  • Manage your expectations in terms of work and your relationships – recognize that these are difficult and stressful times – be compassionate with yourself and focus on the present
  • Break tasks into smaller achievable chunks to prevent being overwhelmed
  • Make sure you get outside – even if on your balcony, to get sunlight (vitamin D)…if you can get into your garden, walk outside (practising safe social distancing)
  • Avoid conflict – be aware of your stress/conflict points with others you are living with and make collaborative plans with them in how to avoid stress and reduce tension (find retreat areas in your space)

Managing Anxiety

  • Anxiety often involves having catastrophic worry thoughts about what will happen, and that focus on uncertainty.  Try to notice these thoughts and step back from them, remind yourself you may be thinking of the worst case scenario or of things you can’t control, focus on what you can control in the immediate and reorient to the present.
  • Practice breathing relaxation at the time when you notice yourself feeling anxious
  • Practice letting go of the emotions -recognize they will peak and then ebb
  • Practice breathing relaxation, yoga or meditation each day– using apps or online resources
  • Connect with others – speak to supportive people around you via phone or social media – discuss your fears.
  • Don’t ignore your anxiety or blame yourself for it – recognize it, accept it as a natural reaction to what is happening, but try not to feed it – distract yourself with a nurturing activity
  • Avoid media saturation about Corona – keep informed (once or twice a day), but avoid the 24-hour media cycle
  • Avoid trawling for health advice, checking for health symptoms on the internet.
  • Get your information from reputable sources and avoid social media groups sensationalizing information, or armchair medico’s or epidemiologists
  • If these strategies aren’t working, seek online therapy resources (Beyond Blue etc) or seek telehealth counselling from psychologists

Managing Isolation

  • Make time each day to connect with others.
  • With people you are living with (kids, partner, housemates) – schedule times for fun/together activities (movies, board games), relaxing times
  • Make sure you stop and leave space/time to connect – share feelings
  • Unless they are sick, hug your people/fur people
  • Set up social media times with friends you normally see – set up regular meets – zoom cocktail hours, zoom book clubs, self-isolation groups, play online games together
  • Use the phone – call people
  • Use podcasts/listen to radio chat shows to help feeling connected

Managing Feeling Cooped Up

  • Open windows and get fresh air
  • Stretch and breathe
  • Get outside and walk – with safe social distancing
  • Do exercise outside if you can
  • Get out in the garden or nature

Managing Sleeping Problems

  • If you are struggling to sleep due to worry, or an overactive mind – try to write these thoughts down in a journal a few hours before sleep…remind yourself you have already considered these things and can’t do anything about them now
  • Try not to watch the clock – turn the clock face against the wall
  • If you can’t sleep after 20 mins, get up and move to another room and wait for the next ‘wave’ of tiredness – do something boring whilst waiting
  • Don’t lie in bed tossing and turning – get up – associate bed with sleep
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol after 5pm
  • Avoid exercising late at night
  • Have a wind-down sleep routine involving sleep oils, relaxation,

Managing Relationships with Partners

  • Work out a plan for routines collaboratively – ensuring equal times for working and child minding/solitary time/social time/exercise time
  • Ensure you have together time, but also individual time (and time for each of you to connect with individual friends)
  • Ideally have separate retreat spaces worked out for these solitary times
  • Rework your balance/division of labour so one person isn’t carrying the heavy domestic load leading to resentment
  • Lower your standards/expectations of each other and recognize it’s a stressful time
  • Don’t judge your relationship by what is happening in this stressful time – don’t make big life decisions
  • Avoid alcohol and other drugs if this escalates problems
  • Together identify different stress/conflict points and work out a strategy to reduce conflict and tension ahead of time
  • Set aside times for fun/unwinding together
  • Have gentle communication – avoid blame

Managing Kids

  • If kids are feeling anxious/asking questions about Corona, answer them honestly and in an age-appropriate way – remind them they are safe
  • Limit kid’s exposure to corona virus media saturation
  • Set up home schooling with a regular routine
  • Make sure to build in exercise, time for them to socialize online with friends, fun activities, outdoor time
  • Set up clear boundaries around your workspace if possible

Managing Health Anxiety

  • Avoid internet trawling/Dr Googling – try to avoid self-diagnosis via internet
  • Catch worry thoughts and ask yourself if you are thinking of the worst case scenario -  practise stepping away from these thoughts
  • Practice relaxation/mindfulness
  • Implement health protection recommendations and remind yourself you are doing what you can to protect yourself
  • Seek professional support via online or telehealth from psychologists if necessary

Managing Financial Stress

  • Practice stress management and anxiety management strategies above
  • Take action to help mitigate circumstances (seeking rent/mortgage assistance/gov assistance) – remind yourself you have done what you can
  • Speak with a financial counsellor

Useful Online Tools

Mindfulness:  Insight Timer App

Online resources for Depression/Anxiety:  MindGym, Beyond Blue

Crisis:  Lifeline, SANE Australia

Kids Anxiety:  BRAVE Online

Domestic Violence: RESPECT helpline

Telehealth consults with GPs and psychologists are now available


  • Kim Felmingham
        Chair In Clinical Psychology
        Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences
  • Lisa Phillips
        Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences