Six ways to maintain (and even improve) your health during COVID-19
Volunteering has physical and mental health benefits. It can support you to feel happier and less anxious. There are many ways to support your community even if you are limiting your contact with others and not doing your normal volunteer work. Some organisations are now recruiting volunteers to do a range of online tasks that keeps you connected with your community and feeling helpful.
If you can, don’t stop donating and supporting your local charity or community organisation. But there are other things to donate if you have to stop giving financially. Perhaps you can share the organisation’s social media posts or just write letters of encouragement to their staff and volunteers? Find other creative ways you can continue supporting the organisations that you love and care about.
Have some fun! Put on some music and dance, sing, do some baking, learn to sew, colour a picture, organise your book shelf, have a lego challenge, build a cubby house, do that jigsaw puzzle sitting in your cupboard. You don’t need children in the house to have fun and be creative. Research shows simply doing something creative can improve your brain function, mental and physical health.
Watching the news to keep yourself updated is important. But it’s also critical to know when to unplug and communicate in ways that are emotionally healthy for you. The news and social media can be a nonstop commentary of bad news and glorified gossip. This will impact your psychological health and can have a great impact on your emotional wellbeing. Using mindfulness and being aware of your feelings can help you to make choices about what information is calming, valuable and helpful.
Having a person or a few people you can call, text or meet online regularly with is incredibly supportive and can help you to feel more optimistic. To support your friends, ask them to talk about what they are grateful for, one thing that they are proud of, how they are tackling negative self talk and what they are looking forward to in the next few days and weeks. There is always something to be grateful for, and something to be hopeful for! These conversations will help you, and others stay more optimistic. Also, share a joke or discuss something that you find funny. Research shows laughter increases positive emotions and might even improve your immune system.
People who are able to keep their minds active, are open to new ideas and willing to experiment are more likely to find creative solutions to challenges. These skills are really important at the moment, as we find ways to organise and manage our lives differently, perform our work and communicate more online. Think of something you’ve always wanted to learn (e.g. your family tree or a new language) or learn about and take some time to do some reading, online learning or study. There are plenty of free and low cost online courses and many study options are also online.
These evidence based strategies can make you feel good physically, mentally and spiritually because happiness comes when you feel you are living a good life that has meaning.
Found this info helpful? Print off a PDF version for sharing with your colleagues, friends and family.
The Australian Citizen Science Association (ACSA) was formed to advance citizen science through the sharing of knowledge, collaboration, capacity building and advocacy. Check out what you can get involved in at citizenscience.org.au
Vollie is an online marketplace that connects skilled people to non-profits and charities for skills-based online volunteering. Vollie projects are exclusively online, meaning that people can donate their skills and experience from anywhere in the world, and around their busy personal and professional schedule. vollie.com.au
GoVolunteer is an initiative of Volunteering Australia. Our aim is to match people who are interested in volunteering with appropriate volunteering opportunities. The website uses a national database of volunteering opportunities. These are listed by volunteering involving organisations, Volunteer Resource Centres and State Volunteer Centres.
Mindfulness is proven to lead to better attention, memory, regulation of emotions and self awareness so Smiling Mind offers mental health tools and a free app developed by psychologists and educators to help bring balance to your life.
Missing Maps is an initiative that asks volunteers to map some of the most vulnerable areas on Earth, so that crisis teams can respond whenever there’s a natural or humanitarian disaster in a more efficient way. Helping this organisation and its partners (which includes the Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières) is as simple as looking at satellite images on your computer and then adding buildings and roads to maps. There’s information on the organisation’s website on how to edit maps and you’ll have support throughout the process. missingmaps.org
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services through their hotline. 13 11 14
Breeze, B., & Scaife, W. (2015). Encouraging Generosity: the Organisation of Fundraising Across Nations. In P. Wiepking & F. Handy (Eds.), Palgrave Handbook of Global Philanthropy Palgrave Macmillan.
Crittall, M., McDonald, K., McGregor-Lowndes, M., Scaife, S., Barraket, J., Sloper, R., Williamson, A., & Baker, C. (2017). Giving and volunteering: the nonprofit perspective report. Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Brisbane, Qld.
Crittall, M., & Scaife, W. (2017) Fact Sheet: Nonprofit organisations overview. Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Studies, Brisbane, Qld.
Mancini, M. (2019). Strategic Storytelling: An Exploration of the Professional Practices of Mental Health Peer Providers. Qualitative Health Research, 29(9), 1266–1276.
Moskowitz, J., Hult, J., Duncan, L., Cohn, M., Maurer, S., Bussolari, C., & Acree, M. (2012). A positive affect intervention for people experiencing health-related stress: Development and non-randomized pilot test. Journal of Health Psychology, 17(5), 676–692.
Poulin, M. (2014). Volunteering predicts health among those who value others: two national studies. Health Psychology : Official Journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association, 33(2), 120–129.
Sin, N., & Lyubomirsky, S. (2009). Enhancing well‐being and alleviating depressive symptoms with positive psychology interventions: a practice‐friendly meta‐analysis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 65(5), 467–487
Stuckey, H., & Nobel, J. (2010). The connection between art, healing, and public health : a review of the current health. American Journal of Public Health, 100(2), 254–263.
Tugade, M., Fredrickson, B., & Barrett, L. (2004). Psychological resilience and positive emotional granularity: Examining the benefits of positive emotions on coping and health. Journal Of Personality, 72(6), 1161–1190.
Yeung, J., Zhang, Z., & Kim, T. (2017). Volunteering and health benefits in general adults: cumulative effects and forms. BMC Public Health, 18(1), 8.