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Physical distancing + social connection: making the most of the virtual world.

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There’s something inherently frustrating about being human.

It’s not the fact that a good dollop of smashed avocado is $17 at your local café, or that one guy at your gym who insists on loudly using his mobile phone your entire workout. It isn’t even your mother-in-law’s passive aggressive remarks about how irresponsible it is to have multiple superannuation accounts (thanks, Susan). Beyond everything, one of the most frustrating realities of human life is the fact that everything in this world is completely impermanent.


The current COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us that, as a society, we need to be prepared for change. In fact, change in itself is our only constant, the only consistent experience that we can all integrate and lean on together. Now, I myself am not a formidable wordsmith when it comes to profound quotes, but I am very good at copying and pasting legitimate wisdom from Google. The insightful British Lecturer Allan Watts once said,

The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

Now more than ever, this notion is a wonderful mantra to bring into our lives. Of course, when managing complex mental health issues, many symptoms may come into play during times of change. But if we can pivot our understanding of togetherness throughout all of this, we may come out the other side stronger than ever. The most incredible thing about the COVID-19 pandemic is that it is unifying us as Australians more than any other global event in the last fifty years. You and I are not alone, in fact we are equals in this journey. No one is exempt, and thanks to technology, there are incredible ways to collaborate and weather this storm together.


One of the key things to remember as we make our way through the COVID-19 pandemic is that technology is a game changer in terms of managing our mental health during self-isolation, or physical distancing. There are tried & tested avenues for support that can be accessed during the time we’re required to spend indoors. Below is a list of ways we can all engage positively with the internet in a bid to live a life with less media fuelled anxiousness and more facts to help us to move forward with practical steps.

1. Online Forums


Talk to people that ‘get it’. Online peer support communities are open 24/7 and many have health professionals in the background making sure everything is safe and supported. Whilst Facebook and Instagram can serve as great tools to help us feel connected, a lot of misinformation can still make its way through these platforms. Managing media consumption is a really important factor in keeping our emotional health in check. Many of the online mental health forums in Australia are moderated by professionals, and can provide a great space to get feedback and ideas for your peers. Check out this thread we have on unpacking COVID19 here on the SANE Forums.


2. Virtual social connection to family & friends

My WhatsApp notifications have been going off since we all started staying inside! Even though we can’t physically be with people, we can still connect. Hopping online to chat to friends, or making an evening call to parents a standing evening activity, really helps to ensure people feel connected during this time. With so many apps now offering text and video chats, you could end up seeing more of your friends and family than before!


The new kid on the block is ‘House Party’ which is a video chat that includes trivia, heads up and heaps of fun games to keep everyone entertained. Skype and Facetime are great ways to check in with your friends during your downtime and WhatsApp and Messenger allow you to send short updates to your nearest and dearest throughout the day.





Many of the helplines available for mental health support are continuing to operate from remote locations. Sometimes we need more than general advice from friends, or insight from peers online. Counsellors that work on behalf of the services below are professionally trained to support you, and can be really helpful in working through more practical and sustainable strategies during this period of self-isolation and physical distancing – you can webchat with them or call in.

SANE Help Centre 1800 18 7263 (10am-10pm Mon-Fri)

BeyondBlue 1300 22 4636 

Mensline 1300 78 99 78

Blueknot Foundation 1300 657 380 (9am-5pm 7 days)


4. Online Apps & Courses


This period of staying indoors may actually prove a very helpful time for many of us to get into a rhythm and routine with our emotional health. There are some incredibly engaging platforms available to help retrain the neuroplasticity inside of your wonderful brain; enabling you to get back on track with your mental health. Below is a list of some really solid services that will help you build a brain stronger than Dwayne Johnson’s biceps!


Smiling Mind
Everyone’s favourite free mindfulness and meditation app, Smiling Mind! Run right here in Australia. Check out the programs available here.



For those wanting to really challenge themselves and get some integrated strategies in place, there’s self-directed CBT modules you can take online here via Swinburne University. This course can be done in your own time so you still have a few hours in the day for a good book and a packet of Tim Tams.



Whilst the unlimited feature requires a paid membership, the free subscription has plenty of 5 and 10-minute meditations that serve as quick grounding tools throughout your day. These are especially helpful if you feel your thoughts are quickly racing ahead of you. Check out the website here.


If you know of any other great online tools, we’d love for you to comment below this blog post with your ideas! Remember, in addition to some of these technological supports, our SANE Forums are a very welcoming and engaging community, moderated by professionals 24/7, you can sign up right here at a time convenient to you! During this time, we must treat ourselves with gentle kindness, exploring the art of patience, and where possible dimming the noise of the outside world (inclusive of media consumption). For all COVID19 updates, we recommend checking in via the Australian Government’s communication channels.




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