Your health and wellbeing
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During this unfamiliar time, our resilience may not be at its usual levels. It’s normal to feel worried or stressed. Below are some tools you can use to support your mental health and help you cope with any anxiety and stress.
- Remember that this is temporary. It will pass and life will return to normal.
- Remember that your effort is helping others in the community; whether you’re staying home to limit the spread of the virus, or working on the frontline to maintain essential services for the NSW community.
- Stay connected with friends, family and colleagues by phone, text, video chat and social media. Don’t underestimate connecting with your community through community forums, social networks or the department’s employee assistance programs.
- Engage in healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing such as meditation, yoga, running or walking your dog. Various organisations and gyms are offering online versions of classes.
- Establish routines as best possible and try to view this period as a new experience that can bring health benefits. Keep regular sleep routines and healthy eating habits.
- If you’re working from home, try to maintain a healthy work-life balance by allocating specific work hours, taking regular breaks and, if possible, establishing a dedicated workspace.
- Limit your television or social media news intake if you find it distressing. Get the facts from reliable sources like Australian Government websites or the World Health Organisation website.
- Building personal resilience through COVID-19
- SafeWork NSW - COVID-19 and mental health at work.
- Mental health support websites (DCJ internal link)
- Mindfulness for staff (DCJ internal link) - mediations including the Mindfulness in May recordings. It helps us to be less caught up in stress, worry, low mood, by allowing us to develop a greater capacity to engage in our lives by being more fully present.
- Mindful Movement Teams Group (DCJ internal link) - On the first Tuesday of each month, The Yoga Foundation will host a 20-minute mindful movement session to strengthen your mental muscle with guided movement and breath. This will run at midday via MS Teams (kicking off on August 3). An additional session will occur during Mental Health Month in October.
- Peer Support Program (DCJ internal link) - Peer Support involves staff supporting colleagues who are experiencing challenges at work or in their personal life, particularly in times of stress. This is currently available to staff in Corrective Services NSW; Courts, Tribunals & Service Deliver; and Youth Justice.
Building and maintaining social connection
Maintaining social connection with others will help motivate you through these uncertain times. Whether you connect daily with colleagues, or with your family, it’s best to maintain a daily balance so you’re not doing too much for others before looking after your own needs.
Recommended resources to help you connect with others at work and at play:
- Social connection toolkit – a comprehensive guide developed by icare to help you understand and initiate positive social connections in your workplace.
- Social fitness and wellbeing videos - on-demand exercise and mediation videos from Live Life Get Active. These are great if you want to move your body during the day from the confines of your home. Share these with a friend, or get a family member to tag along!
Regular exercise and good nutrition can help boost your mood, concentration and mental health.
YouTube and exercise apps can also be a good source for workouts to do at home. Make sure to follow these tips to workout at home safely to keep your body injury-free.
As we’re spending more time cooking and eating at home, it’s important to combine exercise with healthy eating habits. For a range of healthy eating and lifestyle tips, visit the Make Healthy Normal website and Facebook page. You can also start with small changes like making healthy food swaps to curb your sugar cravings.
For more resources and tips to help you make small, healthy changes to your lifestyle, check out the following factsheets from Get Healthy at Work:
- Being healthy while working from home
- Healthy eating while working from home
- Tips to reduce your alcohol consumption while working from home
- Quitting smoking while working from home
- Helpline and community services (DCJ internal link) - external support resources for alcohol, drugs, domestic violence and gambling
Safety at work
Tips to avoid touching your face
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals have cautioned us to avoid touching our face to reduce the risk of contracting the virus. However, when we’re told not to do something, fighting the urge can often feel more intense.
There are many reasons why we can’t stop touching our face. First, a lot of face-touching habits are subconscious. For example, scratching an itch on your nose or rubbing tired eyes. Touching our face can also be a non-verbal way to communicate our feelings — like brushing hair out of your face when you feel anxious, or rubbing your eye when you doubt what someone is saying. Stress and boredom can intensify the impulse to touch your face too.
Like any habit that is difficult to stop, be mindful about the intention to touch your face and replace it with an alternative behaviour. When you have the urge to touch your face, touch another part of your body instead, such as your arm, or hold an object, like a stress ball. This acts as a way of telling your brain to pay attention and turn an unconscious habit into a conscious one. After a few weeks, the repetitive behaviour can help break the habit of frequently touching your face.
Other measures you should take to reduce the risk of catching and spreading COVID-19 are:
- staying home if you’re not feeling well, and avoiding close contact with anyone who has flu-like symptoms
- washing your hands regularly (or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol)
- covering your nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow
- cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects like phones, doorknobs and handles
- maintaining a distance of 1.5 metres from others as much as possible.