Ways you can support your own mental health and wellbeing

Good mental health and wellbeing can mean different things to different people.

Generally, it’s about staying well emotionally, socially and cognitively. It’s the way you think, feel and act, and the relationships you have with others, and is about making sure all of these things are contributing positively to your life – so that you can live in a fulfilling and meaningful way. It’s about being the best you possible.

Depending on your needs and circumstances, there are many things that you can do to look after and maintain good mental health:

Maintaining good mental health - At anytime

  • Try to establish a routine for our ‘new normal’ with a focus on healthy eating, a good sleep pattern, and regular exercise (being mindful of the new guidelines in place to keep all of our community safe).
  • Stay informed about COVID-19 and what you can do to stay safe. It also helps to talk with family and friends and to think about ways you can support each other.
  • For parents and carers, talk clearly and calmly with your children about what is happening.
  • Limit how much time you are spending accessing news and other media about COVID-19. Keeping informed about what is happening is important but constantly reading, listening or watching the news can make you feel more distressed and less able to cope.
  • Some members of our community will struggle more than others. You can help by checking in with those who may be more vulnerable, such as grandparents, elderly neighbours, or family or friends who live alone. Technology can really help in this – phone calls, emails, social media are different ways of connecting.
  • These are difficult times, so try to be kind to yourself and others. We don’t have all the answers, and we have to live with uncertainty, which can be very difficult at times.
  • Remember this is a temporary situation. As a community and a nation, we can all help keep our communities safe.

For information and support on how to look after yourself and your family visit:

Maintaining good mental health - While isolating or in quarantine

The rules and guidance about physical distancing and isolation are changing how we live and interact with each other. We may feel frustrated, distressed or overwhelmed in coping with isolation and being separated from family and friends. There are things we can try that might help with these feelings.

  • Keeping positive really helps. Remind yourself about how you have coped with other challenges, as this can reassure you that you have the resilience to cope with this situation.
  • If you live with others, it’s important to try and be considerate of everyone’s needs, including having some time alone through the day.
  • In confined households, you might not get on as well as you’d like all the time! If there are conflicts and arguments, try to resolve things as calmly and as soon as possible.
  • If you have children in your household, speak calmly to them about what is happening and help create some structure in their daily routine (even if this is different from their usual). Limiting how much they access distressing news or images will also help them to cope better.
  • You might not be able to physically spend as much time with people, but you can remain connected with family and friends by phone, email and social media.
  • We all benefit from exercise. It can be more challenging to do this at home, but there are different things you can try such as floor exercises, dancing, yoga, exercise DVDs or online videos. Take advantage of any outdoor space you have. A backyard or balcony can be a great space for exercise.

Many of us will have new things we keep meaning to try – now might be a good time to start!

Maintaining good mental health if you're a teen or young adult

The impact of COVID-19 has meant we’re currently living in a way unlike anything we have experienced before. This can be stressful and overwhelming.

As a young person, there has been a lot of change and uncertainty this year – uncertainty about your education and your future, changes to the way you socialise and stay connected, and for some, the loss of a job and income.

You might be worried about your family, or afraid about the virus affecting someone close to you. You might also feel hope and excitement about life going back to normal, but worry about it at the same time.

If any of this sounds familiar, you are not alone.

To help get you through these challenging times, we’ve developed some tips and resources you might find useful to help maintain your mental health and wellbeing.

  • Staying connected with friends and family is really important. Keep in touch by giving someone a call, sending a text message, going for a walk together, or catching up in person (remember to physically distance and follow current government guidelines).
  • If you’re worried about going back to school, or how the last few months have impacted on your grades, talk to your parents or a trusted adult. If there’s a teacher you get on well with, they might also be good to speak with. Let them know how you are feeling and what you are worried about.
  • If you are one of the young people in our community who have lost a job or an employment opportunity, there are useful websites to help you through (see Money Smart below).  An alternative option for you right now could be volunteering or giving back to support the community until you find a new job. This can give you a sense of purpose and can often have a range of training opportunities that will build on your current skills.
  • Maintain a routine to give yourself some control over how you handle each day. This includes eating well, keeping physically active and getting enough sleep. Avoid consuming alcohol and/or drugs.
  • It is important to practice self-care, which will look different to everyone. This could include yoga, painting, video games, reading – find something that works for you and that you enjoy!
  • While it’s important to be informed and up to date on the COVID-19 pandemic, limit how much time you spend watching the news and scrolling through information and stories online. Too much negative news can affect your mood and cause further stress.
  • Remember, we are all in this together. Be kind to yourself and focus on what’s important right now.

For more information and resources to support you through the COVID-19 pandemic, you might find the following links and local organisations helpful:

  • Mental Illness Education ACT (MIEACT) have a range of programs that support mental health and wellbeing for young people online and through schools.   
  • Money Smart provides great information and support if you’ve lost a job or are going through financial difficulty.
  • Volunteering ACT has a range of volunteering opportunities to explore.
  • Youth Coalition – What’s On will help you find great programs, activities, youth events and activities in the ACT and surrounding regions.
  • Headspace are dedicated to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young people. They’re also here in Canberra if you’d like to speak to someone about what you’re going through in person.
  • Gugan Gulwan Youth Aboriginal Corporation is an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth centre located in Wanniassa, that provides a range of programs and support to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people.

Maintaining good mental health – If you’re aged 60+

If you’re aged 60+ the symptoms of COVID-19 can be more serious, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or a compromised immune system.

While it’s important to stay home as much as possible to protect your physical health, staying connected with your family and community, remaining healthy and keeping your brain active are also important for your mental health.

Here are some ideas for how you can look after your wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Set up regular phone calls or keep in touch with friends and family using video technology.  
  • Look after your physical health. Make sure you are eating healthy foods and staying active however you can, while complying with government restrictions.
  • Keep your brain active. There are many ways to do this, such as reading, completing a jigsaw puzzle, having a go at sudoku or doing cross word puzzles.
  • Do activities that bring you joy! Consider taking up a new hobby from home, such as gardening, starting a creative project, writing or trying some new meals in the kitchen.
  • Ask for help. If you are finding it difficult to manage day to day life, reach out to someone who can assist you. Whether it’s practical support, such as having someone collect your groceries, or a need for social connection, it’s important to reach out.
  • Remember that you are not alone. Support is available if you need it, and essential home care services may still be delivered to you, with necessary precautions in place.

For more information on how to look after yourself, take a look at the following resources:

Maintaining good mental health – During times of unemployment or financial uncertainty

Many people sadly are experiencing financial hardship and unemployment as a result of COVID-19. This is very stressful. There are some things that might help with the difficult emotions that come with those worries.

  • You are not alone in this. Remember that this is not your fault. These sudden and challenging changes have come out of a global pandemic which is affecting the whole world.
  • Writing down what is worrying you can help get a sense of what things you want to try and sort out first.
  • Let people close to you know how you are feeling and turn to them for support. Talk to friends and family who can help you stay positive and proactive.
  • Exercise regularly, as it helps to reduce stress. Options for exercising at home include yoga, floor exercises, dancing, exercise DVDs or online videos, walking around the backyard, and use of a stationary exercise bike.
  • Avoid using drugs or alcohol to cope with what is happening. Substances like these will make you feel worse and add to your financial stress.
  • Don’t expect to have all the answers. These are unprecedented times so it’s important to be patient with yourself and not overly critical.
  • Try sharing your story or reaching out to others who may be in a similar situation. They may be able to provide support or advice.
  • Limit how much time you spend watching the news or social media during your day. While it’s important to remain up to date, taking a break is essential for your mental health and wellbeing.

Source: Beyond Blue

For information and support relating to unemployment or financial uncertainty visit:

Maintaining good mental health – To cope with loss and grief

These are extraordinary times in which many of us are experiencing all kinds of loss. Those losses might be of usual interactions and social connections, our jobs, our lifestyle. For some it may be loss of health and more sadly, by the loss of loved ones, including those affected by COVID-19.  Grief is a natural response to loss and affects us all differently.

  • Be kind to yourself. Grief takes time and comes in many forms. Sadness, distress and feelings of emptiness are common, but so are feelings like anger, confusion or fear.
  • Talk to people you are close to and who know you well. Even if you can’t be with them in person, they can provide you with support and comfort.
  • Grief is a journey – and different for each of us. The process is often a long one with many ups and downs. Respecting your own grief journey and that of others allows you to go through what can be a painful process in the way that is right for you as an individual.

Source: Beyond Blue

For information and support on coping with grief visit:

Page last updated on: 10 Jun 2020