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Getting through the Coronavirus Crisis

During these stressful and uncertain times, many of us are experiencing anxiety about the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities.

During these stressful and uncertain times, many of us are experiencing anxiety about the health and wellbeing of ourselves and our communities.   

Losing the structure of going to work, going to school, or going out on the weekend, will present major disruption and lifestyle change for so many people. This loss of routine can also leave a lot of room for worry.

For individuals and families struggling with social distancing and the possibility of lockdown, we have put together some tips for coping with change and isolation.

  • Even though we are isolating ourselves and participating in social distancing to help manage the spread of COVID-19, this crisis also presents us with opportunities to connect and strengthen our relationships with others. Some of the ways that we can do this include:
  • Reaching out to family members and friends via phone, message, video call.
  • Putting together a care package for someone in isolation.
  • Participating in online community activities (e.g. online exercise class and virtual playgroup for kids). Many businesses are adapting the way they deliver their services to adhere to the new restrictions.
  • Be mindful of how much time you are spending reading and watching content related to the Coronavirus and how this is impacting your mood. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the amount of information we receive via social media and on the news. Sometimes it can be hard to think of anything else. Moderating when and how you receive information can help the situation feel less overwhelming and allow you to be more present.
  • Adhering to a strict routine can be stressful for some. Establishing a daily rhythm can help structure your days without the pressure of needing to tick things off to feel productive. Establishing a daily rhythm can be as simple as identifying a few tasks to be completed on a given day, without setting an inflexible time frame or order of completion. Daily rhythms could also include time spent regulating the nervous system and releasing stress from the body by using movement (dancing, exercising, stretching), doing something with your hands (baking, making art, ) and spending time in nature.
  • For some, it will also be important to put boundaries in place around personal space (e.g. time spent separate from children or partners) to reduce any tension that arises from being with others 24/7. If you are someone who needs time alone to recharge, communicating this to others and incorporating it into your daily rhythm can help you maintain that boundary. If you are working from home, setting up a workspace that is separate from busy living areas should reduce opportunities for distraction.
  • Also, don’t feel pressured to accomplish something amazing or finish every abandoned project during this time. You don’t need to spring clean the house or finish the home renovations or write a best-selling novel. Keeping yourself well and looking after others is a perfectly valid way to spend this time – and so important!

Tips for Parents & Carers:

  • Allow kids to express what they are feeling and talk about their worries. For lots of kids, these changes will lead to more outbursts, more boundary testing, and a greater need for closeness and reassurance. Holding space for big emotions allows kids to process what they are feeling. This means we avoid dismissing, minimising or punishing children’s feelings – “Don’t worry about it.” “Stop crying.” “It’s not that bad.” Practice staying with your child through emotional outbursts and validating what they are feeling – “I can see how sad you are about soccer being cancelled. You really enjoyed spending time with your friends and getting to practice on Saturdays.”
  • Share age-appropriate information when talking to kids about Coronavirus. Consider whether it is helpful or appropriate for your child to know that people are losing their jobs or that vulnerable people are dying from Coronavirus. Knowing all of this is likely to make a young child feel powerless and unsafe. Limit exposure to scary information and focus on the positives where possible – “The doctors and nurses are working very hard helping everyone who’s sick.” “So many people are trying to help by staying home.”
  • Remind children of what they can do to help (e.g. hand washing and social distancing) and why this is important. Giving children a sense of direction and action can help to reduce feelings of helplessness and confusion, while creating a sense of hopefulness – “If we wash our hands and stay home as much as we can, we can help keep everyone healthy.”

Written by Melanie Hannam

Registered Psychologist

 

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