COVID-19 is hopefully starting to become old news in Australia, but the effects of lockdowns can certainly still be felt – in some instances, people are still very much living in isolation while for others, the impact of any previous isolation might still be causing hardship.
Coincidentally, there has been some recent COVID-19 news affecting communities in Queensland, so it’s worth considering lockdown rules that can be difficult for many to deal with whether they’re current or not.
Everything considered, we thought we’d collate a few tools that might make a positive difference to anyone dealing with current restrictions or even after-effects of those that have long been lifted …
Generally speaking many people in the disability community are potentially more vulnerable than others to feeling isolated, but add government directed isolation as a law and it creates a whole new level of vulnerability. Whether you’re in a share house, Supported Independent Living environment, living with family or living completely independently the effects can be largely the same.
Without human contact, our mental health can suffer as can then our physical and emotional health, so it’s important for us to do whatever we can to engage with others.
If you or someone you care for is at risk of feeling isolated, here’s a few things you might consider doing to alleviate the hardship that comes with it – further below we’ll add some links to resources that can help too:
Create human contact:
Help them set up a tablet, laptop or other technology that offers easy and secure access to video chat software like zoom or facetime. For the most part, zoom is free to access and is fantastic for just staying in touch, a simple app download to the device allows for regular check ins, conversations and as a bonus, even creates a gateway for a person to get remote treatment from providers.
If you can’t physically be near the person, a fun reminder that you’re thinking of them is to let them know you’ll be driving past their house, ask them to come to the window. You might have heard and seen the stories where people drive past with large soft toys tied to their car, or a bunch of balloons billowing from the windows as they drive by waving. Do this once a week and watch the smile increase in size each time.
If you can be physically nearby, head to an open space together if the rules in your area allow it, enjoy the outdoors with a packed lunch or simply enjoy the fresh air. If you’re near some water, there’s plenty of research about the negatively charged ions released by moving salt water that can impact our mental health just by breathing in the air nearby (https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/negative-ions-create-positive-vibes)!
If a café is an option, pick one day a week that you can both meet or go together for a morning hot chocolate or coffee. This again creates a time of the week to look forward to, building a relationship that enables conversation outside the house which in itself has a plethora of advantages, notwithstanding an opportunity to also meet new people in the community.
Food and Thought:
Have food delivered. If finances allow, you can access some incredibly well-priced food delivery services that can deliver fresh produce for cooking or even pre-prepared meals that just need heating. Alternatively, you could order something special once a week, chocolates, a healthy uber eats meal or similar that lets them know you’re thinking of them.
Food is important (obviously), but good food is even more so. Choosing healthy foods has hundreds of benefits beyond what you might immediately think, so be mindful of what you pick as a snack or meal and be sure it has nutritious value – many of the deliverable packages give you the details you might need about dietary requirements so read up first and be sure there’s no allergies present!
Build a routine:
Create a routine that’s easy to follow and ticks the boxes of what a healthy, normal day outside of lockdowns could look like. Something as simple as a written timetable on the fridge door that says something like:
- 7am, wake up and make your bed
- 8am, shower and dress for breakfast
- 9am, have breakfast
- 10am, spend 5 minutes focussing on your breathing
- 1015am, video chat with (your name)
- 11am, light exercise around the loungeroom
Routines like this give you a feeling of control of your own day, which in-turn creates a sense of achievement, reduces decision fatigue and can be a reminder of things to look forward to each day.
Healthy Mind: https://www.healthymind.org.au/
Healthy Mind is an online Easy Read tool for building good mental health. They offer a series of great instructional videos delivered via their website that are fantastic and brief tools
Able Digital Wellness: https://beable.com.au/
Able is a platform designed to deliver exercise videos, dietary advice, recipes and mental health resources to your inbox every single week. A great all-in-one package to keep you moving
Smiling Mind: https://www.smilingmind.com.au/
Although it requires an App, Smiling Mind is an incredible resource for keeping your mental health in good shape.
Although LIVIN have a focus on suicide prevention, they also have an incredible set of resources to read that can be used as tools for a healthy mind.
Able Foods: https://ablefoods.com.au/
Backed by Olympian and all round legend Dylan Alcott, Able Foods provide great quality food for people with disability to lead healthier and happier lives.
Pre-packaged, easy to prepare meals that are healthy and tasty, Yoofoodz make meal time pretty simple once you have a delivery at your door.
Reading might not be high on the list for all of us (or even possible), but for some colouring is a great way to relax and create something beautiful. Booktopia has a huge array of books, including colouring books for all ages (adults included) that are fun and offer some great mental health advantages.
Local Council: Search for your area online
Most local councils hold a heap of free initiatives that give you access to events, activities, exercise, tours of a local area and much more. These are always great opportunities to meet new people while having a great time in a safe environment (just make sure they’re accessible to you).
Some hotlines and helplines:
- Kids Helpline: https://kidshelpline.com.au | 1800 55 1800
- eHeadspace: https://headspace.org.au/eheadspace/ | 1800 650 890
- Lifeline: https://www.lifeline.org.au/ | 13 11 14
- Or search your local government’s website and directories for a service you feel comfortable with.
To summarise, if you or someone you care about are at risk of experiencing the negative effects of lockdowns, past or present, we urge you to reach out. There’s so much to do and so much fun to be had together, and in so many different ways. Even if we can’t be next to each other all the time, there’s always a way to brighten someone’s day.
Be creative, but always remember, you’re not alone.
NDSP Plan Managers is a NDIS registered provider specialising in NDIS Plan Management. If you are a NDIS Participant looking for the right Plan Manager, CLICK HERE to get in touch with our friendly team today.