Social distancing at home can be tough if you are living with a disability. But whatever your situation, there are plenty of things you can do to help you stay healthy, happy and connected. Here’s 20 ideas to get you started.
- Stay in touch with your doctors.
Your health is important, so it’s important to keep your regular appointments and get help if you need it. If you are unable to go in person, call your doctor. Most GPs offer telehealth services, so you can receive care through phone or video conferencing.
- Talk to your someone if you’re feeling sad or anxious.
If you aren’t coping well mentally, share with how you are feeling, such as a loved one or your support worker. They may be able to help you feel better. At the very least, they can pass your concerns on to your case manager so you can receive help. You can also call Lifeline any time on 131 114.
- If it doesn’t feel right, say something.
One for the home carers: if you notice a change in your loved one’s behaviour, such as they are withdrawn, frustrated, sleeping more, moody or worried, reach out and ask if they are ok. You can also share your concerns with their case manager if you feel they need help.
- Spend some time outside every day.
Did you know that getting out in nature reduces stress, anxiety and depression?Try exercising outdoors or going for a walk in your local park. If those things are too hard, spend time in your own backyard. Walking around your garden or sitting on the balcony can be enough to lift your spirits.
- Don’t give up on therapy.
Staying at home doesn’t mean you have to stop thriving! Continue reaching for your goals by keeping up with your therapy sessions. Health professionals – speech therapists, occupational therapists and psychologists – can conduct sessions over the phone, while many physios offer online classes for pilates, yoga and functional stability.
- Discover a fun new hobby.
Have you always wanted to try something new? Now is the time to explore! The pandemic has inspired plenty of people to explore their creative side with activities like knitting, bead art, painting, colouring in, baking, gardening, crosswords and puzzles.
- Think of alternatives to group activities.
If your regular group activity or outing is cancelled because of the pandemic, spend some time with someone from your support network and brainstorm other things you might be able to do. Your regular gym session, for instance, could be replaced with an exercise program that you do outdoors at the park.
- Stay informed about what’s going on.
Stay on top of things by regularly checking the government COVID-19web page for local outbreaks and the latest health advice. Here are some assessible resources that might help:
- Auslan COVID-19 information
- Easy Read COVID-19 information
- COVID-19 information if you speak a language other than English
- Australian government resources if you speak a language other than English
- Ethnolink COVID-19 resources in 71 languages
- Don’t overload on the news
While it can be helpful to know what’s going on with the pandemic, stick to credible news websites and government websites like the ones mentioned above. Reading lots of different ‘panic’ stories online can be stressful and unnecessary.
- Get the aids you need to live independently.
Make sure you have any equipment you need, such as gloves, catheters, PEG feeding equipment and formulas, dressings and pads. If you own a mobility scooter or wheelchair, make sure it has been serviced. Also consider if there are any items that can help make living independently at home easier, such as a lift chair.
- Check you have enough medication.
Make sure your prescription is filled and you have any medication that you need on hand. If you are avoiding going out to public spaces, you can get your medication picked up for you. Talk to your case manager about how we can help.
- Ask someone to teach you how to use technology you aren’t familiar with.
Staying in touch with people is important for your wellbeing. In social distancing times, this might mean learning how to use programs like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Facebook Messenger. If you are unfamiliar with any of these technologies, think about who could help you learn. Your support worker or case manager is a good place to start.
- Keep your phone charged and full of credit.
Make sure you have enough credit and data on your phone to stay in touch with people. If you normally go to the shops to top up your credit and are staying at home, get in touch with your provider to see if there are other options available to you, such as phone or online payments.
- Know who to call if you feel sick with COVID symptoms.
Write down who to call if you start to experience COVID-19 symptoms (this includes fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath). Have your doctor or carer’s number handy. Other options are the National Coronavirus Helpline (1800 020 080), or the DSS Disability Information Helpline (1800 643 787).
- Crete a new routine.
It’s easy to feel out of control during times like these. Developing a routine can help you feel grounded, especially if you are spending large amounts of time at home. Set aside a regular time to get dressed for the day, have a shower, eat proper meals, go outside, talk to a friend, exercise and do a hobby you enjoy.
- Eat fresh and healthy food.
Make sure you are eating healthy meals on a regular basis, as nutritious food will help fuel your body and nourish your mind. As a general guide, eat plenty of vegetables of different types and colours, fruit, grain foods, meats or meat alternatives and dairy products like milk, yoghurt and cheese. And don’t forget to drink water regularly!
- Get your groceries delivered to your front door.
If you are unable to go to the shops, get your groceries delivered so you can eat well while staying safe. NDIS participants receive priority home delivery during the pandemic from the country’s major supermarkets. Chat to your support worker to discuss what options are available to you.
- Stay positive
Research shows that gratitude is strongly associated with positive emotions and better mental health. Each day, think of a few things you can be thankful for. Instead of imaging worst-case scenarios, keep things in perspective by remembering that this situation is temporary and will pass.
- Try meditation
If you find it hard to keep anxious thoughts at bay, relaxation techniques such as breathing, muscle relaxing and visualisation exercises can help. Beyondblue has some on their website which you can try at home.
- Plan how you will manage the pandemic
If you haven’t done so already, spend some time making a plan for how you will care for your health and manage the impact of the pandemic. Here is a guide from the Department of Health you can use. Ask your case manager and support workers for input – after all, we are here to help.