Why coronavirus lockdown 2.0 may feel like a more crushing blow

With greater Melbourne reverting to a six-week lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic, don’t be surprised if you feel drained.

“With this coronavirus, we have seen exhaustion and stress meet economic hardship,” says Beyond Blue lead clinical adviser Dr Grant Blashki.

“Understandably that is of great concern and is affecting people’s mental health.”

Facing round two of coronavirus lockdown

While predictions of a “second wave” were foreshadowed earlier in the year, many were hoping the restricted periods of March to June would mean more freedom for Aussies in the back half of the year.

For Melburnians, restrictions being reapplied has been met with some anger, frustration and anxiety.

On the day the Melbourne postcode lockdowns were announced, Beyond Blue saw an 88 per cent jump in people contacting its coronavirus mental wellbeing support service compared with the same time the previous week.

Melbourne mental health social worker Jennifer Cidoni says the restrictions impact every resident in some way, from young to old.

“People are feeling as if their world just got so much smaller,” she says. “What you’re feeling is grief, because you’ve lost out on many aspects of your life.”

As discovered through previous social isolation periods, we need to be creative when it comes to keeping happy and healthy.

“What we would usually do for self-care we mightn’t be able to at the moment,” says Jennifer.

So which strategies can help ease the mental toll of lockdown 2.0?

Focus on the ‘now’ and the things you can control

Focusing on and trying to predict the future can cause more anxiety.

“Even if we go back to ‘normal’, it’s not really what normal used to be,” says Jennifer.

“I’m not sure thinking of that is helpful; we can’t get too fixated worrying about the future. It sounds cliché, but just take it one day or one week at a time.”

Lean on your past lockdown experience

While you may feel weary even thinking about going through physical isolation again, your past experience can help you.

“It’s important to remember that we’ve been through this before and many of us will be better equipped to cope during the next six weeks,” says Dr Blashki.

Stay connected

“Keeping connected to our friends and loved ones is very important,” says Dr Blashki.

“Our social networks have a real protective factor for our mental health, as humans are social creatures by nature.”

Technology has been a fantastic tool to use while we can’t be face-to-face, so don’t abandon your regular Zoom or WhatsApp calls just yet.

“I prefer video calls to text messaging as you have more social cues and a sense of connection,” he says.

Find and offer support

“If you do start feeling overwhelmed or feelings of stress start impacting your everyday life, reach out for support,” advises Dr Blashki. “Seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.”

Jennifer recommends checking in on your neighbours and staying in touch with loved ones during this challenging time, as we are all in this together.

“It’s good if people can seek help earlier rather than later, especially if they have a tendency towards mental health conditions or live alone.”

If you need help, contact Beyond Blue’s coronavirus mental wellbeing support service on 1800 512 348 or via its website.

Where to get essential coronavirus information

If you are experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, call the 24/7 hotline on 1800 675 398. You can also use the Healthdirect symptom checker.

Instant Consult offers on-the-spot online GP consultations and can issue medical certificates, prescriptions, radiology and pathology requests and specialist referrals.

Information, news and government guidance on COVID-19 changes regularly. For the latest official health and government advice, visit:

Written by Samantha Allemann.