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Looking after your mental health during COVID-19

COVID-19 is creating uncertainty across many communities and industries. The performing arts and live event sectors have been greatly impacted.

During these uncertain times, we are going to need strength and connection to get through. It’s hard to know where to start – especially when everything is changing so quickly – so let’s keep it simple.

Keep things in perspective

The actions being taken now may seem excessive, but they are being taken to protect the community at large for the long term – and especially our most vulnerable. Our best resource is our health, as that impacts everything else. We don’t know how long these closures and cancellations will last, but remember that these actions are temporary.

Take care of your body

You can’t fill from an empty cup. Now more than ever we need to engage every strategy we have to be resilient, energetic and healthy. Try to eat well, sleep soundly, and exercise. Follow the simple health advice we all know, avoid risk, and if you become unwell, rest up and recover.

Take care of your head and heart

It is totally understandable to feel overwhelmed, anxious or low in response to the current situation. Recognise the thoughts and feelings without judgement, and allow yourself to feel them. Then, find something positive to focus on. Doing things that make you feel good is the fuel that will take you forward. Take a walk if you can, listen to music, talk to a friend, watch a movie, meditate, learn a new skill, play a game. Aim to do something enjoyable every day.

Take care of others

We’re all in this together – every person in our industry is impacted in some way. Support and kindness go a long way in making the giver and receiver feel better. Check in on each other regularly, be kind, and offer help. When you need help, reach out to your friends, networks and professional supports. When someone reaches out to you, listen non-judgementally, ask what might help, and be clear about what you can give – be ready to refer them to other supports.

Take care of your community

The performing arts community will recover in time. Stay connected with your friends, peers, and colleagues – look for and engage with what’s on offer, and keep developing your own ideas. Promote the arts to your wider network, encourage them to donate if they can, and be ready to fill those seats when we’re back in action.

Consider your sources of information and use social media wisely

Stay informed from reliable news sources, but don’t be overwhelmed by opinion or panic. Engage in the parts of social media that help you stay connected in a positive way, such as sharing resources, and staying in touch with people you may not be able to see in person for some time.

You have time

In our busy lives we often wish for more time to learn that new skill or finish that project. Now you have it, so try to receive it as a gift. Write a list of everything you wanted to do, if only you had the time, and pick one to start with, and then pick the next. Achieving one small goal makes you much more likely to tackle the next. No matter how small the task, be sure to savour a sense of accomplishment.

Share resources

Ours is a community full of creative, diverse, skilled, generous and willing people. If you can, share your skills and knowledge with each other. Swap a yoga lesson with a voice session. Mentor a production student and let them build your online profile. Try to think laterally and look for opportunities, especially if you are in a position to pay people. We have a unique opportunity to unite, share, learn, and become more resilient than ever.

Think short term and long term

You may need to put aside your long-term creative goals to focus on short-term survival goals. That is totally fine – you are not alone in needing to do this. Stock shelves in your local grocery store, apply for assistance, tutor a child now being home-schooled, apply to pause loan repayments, share accommodation – whatever you need to do, do it proudly. If you have ever thought of a dual (or triple, or quadruple) career focus to help navigate our turbulent industry at the best of times, now is the time to research, study and prepare. Come out of this even more resilient than you were before.

Ask for help

You are not alone. If you feel like you are in crisis, reach out and do not be alone. Call any of the numbers below, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Ask for help and accept it. If you are worried about someone, ask if they are ok, and if you are still concerned, stay with them and connect them with other supports.

If you or someone you know is at immediate risk, please contact the Emergency Services on 000.

Take care of yourselves, and take care of each other. We will get through this. Together.

Written by Dr Jane Miskovic-Wheatley for the Arts Wellbeing Collective.


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