Keeping calm in the face of COVID-19

Article by Anna Wallace
Our Lady's Guidance Counsellor

All of us would have experienced some anxiety and trepidation this week related to COVID-19.  COVID-19 is a real threat to our health and daily functioning, so feeling worried or anxious about what is to come is normal. 
While anxiety and panic help to protect us and anticipate threats, it is important that we can channel the anxiety into helpful actions.  Below are some wellbeing tips relevant to these times:

 Keep Your Daily Routines
During times of uncertainty it can be helpful to hold on to the reassuring habits of daily life that we can control.  These might be different for each of us, but might include: keeping regular wake times and bed times, eating dinner as a family, exercising, making time to reach out to a friend during the day, taking 5 minutes to enjoy a cup of tea.  

 Maintain Your Presentation
Continue to take care of yourself by showering every day, brushing your teeth and getting dressed for the day as you usually would.  Some schools have even encouraged students who are self-isolating to continue to put on their uniform for school hours while they work. 

 Stay Connected
This is a time where people may feel increasingly isolated.  Don’t underestimate the power of connecting with someone else through something as simple as a text message.  We are fortunate to live in a time where there are various platforms to stay connected such as Skype, Facetime, messenger, and Zoom.   If you don’t know your neighbours, now is a good time to reach out and say hello.  

Your usual exercise routine might have been disrupted recently due to gym and sporting venue closures.  It is important to find other ways to exercise daily.  Recently there have been many exercise programs being offered online for free.  For example, the Down Dog app is being offered for free for everyone until April 1st and free to students until July 1st.

Sleep, Eat Well and Stay Hydrated
This might seem obvious, but stress can disrupt our usual sleeping and eating habits.  We may find ourselves eating or sleeping considerably more or less.  Eating a balanced diet and getting enough sleep (8 to 9 hours for adolescents) is important for our mental and physical wellbeing.

 Keep Productive
Make plans for what you can achieve each day.  As a family write lists of activities you can do on your own or together that you can refer to when moments of boredom strike.  For students at home this might be an opportunity to learn a new skill, get their room in order or start a project they have been wanting to get done. 

Practice Self-Compassion
Our daily lives are changing at a rapid pace.  How we were living last week is different to how we are this week and might be very different again in another week.  We are all doing the very best we can in a unique, changing and challenging situation.   

Look Out for the Good in the World
In any challenging situation there are people that go out of their way to support others through making donations, raising awareness and supporting others in incredible ways.  Notice these people and point them out to those around you.  Consider what contribution you could make to your community.

Limit Time on Social Media and Watching the News
If you notice you are feeling stressed and anxious consider limiting news watching and listening to 30 minutes a day.  This is enough time to hear updates on what is happening, without hearing the same information repeated.  Always refer to credible sources, instead of relying on social media to keep you updated. 

Reach out for Support
Online Support:
Queensland Health 
Beyond Blue 
Smiling Mind 
Mood Gym 
The Brave Program 
Important Numbers:
Emergency 000
Lifeline 13 11 14
For access to Public Mental Health Services, call 1300 MH CALL (T: 1300 64 2255)
Beyond Blue 1300 224 636