Lockdown got you down? Here’s how to rescue your mental health

How to stay sane until the world goes back to normal.
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Millions of Aussies are back in lockdown, and that can be really rough on teenagers.

Being cut off from friends, having to do school remotely at home, being stuck inside – it all kind of sucks.

And with no idea when the world will totally go back to normal, it’s easy to get bogged down in feelings of sadness and frustration.

WATCH: Selena Gomez opens up about her mental health.

Mental health is an important topic these days and people are a lot more open than they used to be.

But lockdown, COVID-19 and everything else has put a lot of strain on teens’ mental health and it’s vital to know how to deal with those struggles safely.

“Lockdown can be challenging for lots of people, including young people – it is normal to feel sad, angry or scared at this uncertain time,” says headspace Executive Director Clinical Practice, Vikki Ryall.

“COVID-19 has impacted the way young people study, work and interact with family and friends. It’s likely your routine has been interrupted and you might be separated from the people, spaces and activities that make you feel safe and calm.”

It’s so normal to feel down and disheartened in lockdown. (Credit: Disney)

So yeah, if remote school and study, not being able to see friends, and being stuck inside is getting you down – that’s totally understandable.

There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad, confused, scared or any other way in a time like this.

What’s important is making time for yourself and investing in your own mental health and wellbeing.

But what does that look like? Well, it depends on you.

Some people like going for long walks alone, others might paint or draw, some can spend hours in the bath with a nice candle – self care looks different for everyone.

Mood. (Credit: CBS)

Vikki shared some practical steps you can take to look after your mental health too.

“Staying connected with the people who are important to you [can help], look for ways to connect on the phone or online,” she says.

“Taking a break from the news cycle; this may include switching off social media, the TV and radio for a while. The amount of information can be overwhelming!”

She also urges young people to make the most of the time they are allowed to be outside exercising.

If you’re allowed outside to exercise, try heading to a park or coastal area for a nice change of scenery.

Get outside when you can, but mask up like Millie Bobby Brown when appropriate. (Credit: Instagram)

You can also walk or exercise with a friend for some social connection if the rules in your state or area allow it. Remember to wear a mask where appropriate and social distance.

“Keeping a routine as much as possible,” can really help, Vikki says. “Get up at about the same time, go to bed about the same time, and eat well.”

Her final tips were: “Set out small, achievable goals you want to achieve during your day, and do something you know keeps you calm and grounded.

“Practise yoga, watch a movie, bake something sweet, take a nap – whatever helps you feel good.”

All of these things can really help support your own mental health during lockdown, and you can suggest them to friends who may be struggling too.

Lying around watching TV is tempting, but there are other things that can help boost your mental health. (Credit: Touchstone Pictures)

But what should you do if your feelings of sadness or anxiety become too big for a walk or a bath to fix?

Depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses are becoming more common during lockdown and it’s important to get support if you think you may be dealing with one or a combination of them.

Vikki says: “If you are finding it very difficult to cope, it can help to talk. Reach out to a family member, a friend or another trusted adult for support.”

If you’re not sure who to turn to or you’re worried about speaking up, you can also get in touch with headspace.

“If lockdown means you can’t visit a centre in-person, you can get support online or over the phone from eheadspace,” Vikki advises.

“eheadspace is a free, confidential service staffed by mental health professionals from 9am to 1am every day.”

Looking after yourself is so important, and sometimes we all need a little bit of help and support with that, so there’s no stigma in asking for help.

If you think a friend may need help, you can also chat with a trusted adult, headspace or suggest your friend do the same.

And remember, looking after your mental health is important even when we’re not all stuck inside.

“Knowing how to support your mental health is important all the time, not just during lockdown,” Vikki says.

Even when the world goes back to normal (one day) you can always turn to friends, family and groups like headspace for support.

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