By Harry Easton
2020 has been quite a year, with a lot of young Australians having to face all sorts of changes, whether it be work, university, lifestyle or health.
Conviction Group has also had to adapt to the changes that the coronavirus has brought to Australia, and as an organisation we want to educate our followers about how we can all cope with change and use the rights tools to become more resilient when change is upon us.
With that in mind, we asked volunteer members and speakers in the Conviction Group team to offer some tips on looking after your mental health as the world changes around you.
1. Set a time each week to check in with a mate
If you’ve had to isolate because of a COVID-related hotspot or if you’ve faced stressful changes in the workplace, it doesn’t mean you have to shut yourself off from the world.
Although there could be instances where we can’t see all our friends at once, setting a time each week to catch up with friends virtually can give you an event to look forward to, and help you to destress.
Conviction Group volunteer Ben, 23, offers this piece of advice.
“Ask yourself what you are looking forward to, like catching up with friends. This can help make you feel better during a rough week and gives you something to smile about.”
This could be with a partner, friend, family member or work colleague. Schedule a virtual coffee date, or a virtual workout routine. Do whatever settles your mind and keeps you social. Or make it a party and host a virtual trivia night with a large group of friends!
2. Surround yourself with people who have a positive influence on you
A big part of coping with change is having strong support networks around you; this could be your family, housemates or friendship circles. But sometimes, we may find that people in these networks are making us feel stressed or anxious.
Whether they’ve been getting worked up over COVID restrictions, or making general comments that bring the mood down, these things aren’t helpful for anyone.
Matt Caruana, 21, a speaker at Conviction Group’s forums, believes there needs to be a strong positive connection between the values we hold as individuals and the people we surround ourselves with.
“If they’re aligned, we get to feel more of what we want to. We get to think more of what we want to, and do more,” says Matt. But he says surrounding ourselves with people who don’t align with the vision we have for ourselves can cause stress and anxiety for people.
“If they’re not in alignment, they’re probably not the right person in our life. If they’re not making us feel great, why are we hanging around?”
3. Make positive changes that shake up your routine
While there are some changes in our life we can't control, proactively shaking up your routine to improve mental wellbeing can be a factor for positive change.
Conviction Group Program Manager Nick, 20, says focusing on physical exercise and making efforts to enjoy his downtime helped him cope with the changes brought on by lockdown.
“Rather than staying cooped up indoors, at the same desk or in front of the TV, I found getting out to do physical exercise helped my mental well-being. In my downtime, I researched new hobbies to get a bit of a refresh.
Conviction Group volunteer Sammy, 24, used exercise as a way to set goals for herself that helped refocus her motivations.
“I’ve been going to the gym pretty much every day, and setting goals to accomplish at the gym. They’re different to work and university goals as they’re self-determined. It’s been a good way to break up being stuck at home and seeing the same four walls.”
4. Reset you phone notifications and removing social media
Constantly receiving notifications from your phone or stressing about things we read online can make us feel like we have no control over changes in our life. But simple things like readjusting settings on our smartphones or even removing social media can feel like a weight being lifted off our shoulders.
“I turned off notifications on my phone to avoid little stressors, as they were distracting me and affecting my productivity and concentration,” says Conviction Group vice chairperson Simon, 29.
“By turning them off, I found that I felt more settled and not as distracted.”
Conviction Group volunteer Seppi, 25, agrees that re-evaluating your smartphone needs can have a huge impact on stress levels, as she felt like she was taking more control over what she reads online.
“A couple of weeks ago I deleted my social media account, and my anxiety has dropped massively since then,” she says.
“I found that I have healthier and more engaging conversations with my closer friends. I’m researching and reading topics that I want to see, not what my social media account wants me to see.
“I’m catering for what my interest are. This has helped me monitor and navigate around the information that I’m receiving.”
5. Mindfulness and gratefulness
While 2020 may feel like change is constantly happening around us, sometimes change is something we can’t control. Taking the time to be present in your surroundings and being grateful for what we have can allow us to feel more content and calm out thoughts.
Conviction Group volunteer Ben has had to move universities and houses multiple times in the last two years.
“One thing that can help with change is having ways of grounding yourself, identifying where you are right now and where you are at this point in time,” says Ben.
“Mindfulness is a popular way to achieve this. What you can also do is recognise the five senses; what can see, hear, smell, taste and feel.”
“Another thing that helps me with managing change is gratitude exercises. Just think of things you are grateful for right now, in this moment, like having friends or a roof over your head. Then think about why you are grateful for your five senses? Things like tasting food or listening to music.”
6. Changes in career
Sometimes we may feel anxious while awaiting a job application result. CEO of Conviction Group Marco Capobianco, 26, says taking a more proactive approach when seeking employment can alleviate feelings of doubt and anxiety when applying for new jobs.
After submitting a job application, figure out when the organisation is making a decision about the role so you can follow up on your application,” says Marco. “Sometimes this is written in the application. If it isn’t written down, call the organisation and ask.”
He also suggests asking questions about the role before submitting the application.
“This will help you gain insight that other applicants may not have to help you in your application. Also, this provides an opportunity for you to build a genuine connection over the phone with the person involved in the application process.”
7. Learning to trust yourself by making uncertainty your friend
Learning to trust yourself and your instincts in times of uncertainty can help you cope with the changes going on in the word around you. A big advocate of this mentality is Rachel Botsman, author and Trust Fellow at Oxford University.
In Rachel’s weekly newsletter on LinkedIn, Rethink with Rachel, she explored the notion of learning to trust yourself by reflecting on how each of us take risks with our physical actions and with our thoughts. If we are comfortable with risk, we become more comfortable when facing stressful and uncertain situations.
She offers the following piece of advice:
“If you’d like to uncover where you trust yourself (and where you don’t) try this simple exercise:
In her newsletter, Rachel reflects on her own personal experience of being afraid of heights, and attempting to overcome it by jumping from a 15-foot wall into the ocean. For more about Rachel’s opinions on trust, check her out on LinkedIn.
These tips are just a starting block for coping with change and looking after your mental health. While it’s important to look after your own wellbeing, remember to reach out to friends who might be feeling the stressors of change. Share this article among your friendship circle and start a conversation!
Readers seeking support and information can contact the following:
Beyond Blue 1300 22 46 36
Lifeline 13 11 14