Self-isolation due to the COVID-19 Coronavirus worldwide Pandemic

Mental health and wellbeing during the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

The outbreak of the coronavirus COVID-19 has impacted people in varying ways on an international scale.   It is understandable that during times like this, people may be feeling afraid, worried, anxious and overwhelmed by the constantly changing alerts and media coverage regarding the spread of the virus.

While it is important to stay informed, the following are some mental health and wellbeing tips and strategies to continue looking after ourselves and each other during these difficult times.

Manage your exposure to media coverage as this can increase feelings of fear and anxiety.   Be mindful of sources of information and ensure you are accessing good quality and accurate information. 

Follow a “calm yet cautious” approach, do your best to remain calm and be mindful not to contribute to the widespread panic that can hinder efforts to positively manage the outbreak.   Ensure you are following directives issued by the government, medical advice and observe good hygiene habits such as washing your hands thoroughly and often.

You should also use tissues if you sneeze and make sure you dispose of them quickly.

Show compassion and kindness to one another these times of fear, isolation (both physical and social) and uncertainty are when it is most important that we strengthen our sense of community by connecting with and supporting each other.   Remind ourselves that we can manage this much better together in solidarity and that COVID-19 does not discriminate it can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity.

Actively manage your wellbeing by maintaining routines where possible, connect with family and friends (even if not in person), staying physically active, eating nutritious foods and seeking additional support by contacting professional support.

Strategies to cope with social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine

Going into a period of social distancing, self-isolation or quarantine may feel daunting or overwhelming, and can contribute to feelings of 

  • Helplessness,
  • Fear,
  • Loneliness,
  • Hopelessness.   

In addition to the above, we encourage the following;

  • Perspective, try to see this time as unique and different, not necessarily bad, even if it something you did not necessarily choose.
  • Connection, think of creative ways to stay connected with others, including social media, email and telephone.
  •  Be generous to others, giving to others in times of need not            only helps the recipient, it enhances your wellbeing too. 
  • Is there a way to help others around you?
  • Stay connected with your values.   Do not let fear or anxiety drive your interactions with others.
  • Daily routine, create a routine that prioritises things you              enjoy and even things you have been meaning to do but have not had enough time.  Read that book, watch that show, take up that new hobby.
  • Try to see this as a new and unusual period that might even have   some benefits.
  • Limit your exposure to news and media.   Perhaps choose specific times of day when you will get updates, and ensure they   are from reputable and reliable sources.

Staying connected through the COVID-19 crisis.

Research after the SARS pandemic in Hong Kong in 2008, provides evidence of the significance of connection through epidemics.   

It found that residents in Hong Kong experienced increased social connectedness, which offset the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic.

As connection is so important during this time, here are some tips on staying connected to others during this time.

If there is someone you think may struggle through social isolation, 

it is important to reach out to them and let them know you care:

Call them to check on their welfare.

Send an email.

Leave a note under their door.

Do not underestimate the power you have to offer hope to another person.

We encourage people to get creative with how they interact, here are some ways to stay connected if self-isolating:

Set up a gratitude tree – where every member posts a message or sends a text to other members to share something they are grateful for.

Find a buddy, or group of, to set daily challenges with. 

These could include a healthy habit, a mindful practice, a creative pursuit. 

Be sure to encourage and check in daily to stay motivated.

Set dates and times to watch the same TV shows/movies with someone and message each other your thoughts along the way… kind of like Goggle Box but you are not sharing the couch!

If your local community has one, join its social media group!   

This will keep you up to date with what is going on directly around you. It may also include ways you can perhaps reach out and connect with someone less fortunate than you and ways to assist them.

Try to anticipate distress.

It is fine to feel vulnerable and overwhelmed as we read news about the outbreak, especially if you have experienced trauma or a mental health problem in the past, or if you have a long-term physical health condition that makes you more vulnerable to the effects of the coronavirus.

It is important to acknowledge these feelings and remind each other to look after our physical and mental health. We should also be aware of and avoid increasing habits that may not be helpful in the long term, like smoking and drinking. 

Helping children cope through COVID-19.

This is an uncertain time for everyone, and children may be impacted by fear and anxiety.   

Here are some guidelines on how to ensure your children are supported;

  • Start by Acknowledging children that is okay to feel concern.
  • Go through all their concerns and questions with them, rather than meaningfully dismissing their feelings by telling them everything is fine. 
  • Try sharing with them that you also find events like this worrying. Let them know that you can balance up these worries with the knowledge that they will likely not come true.
  • Try to be careful not to have conversations about your fears – particularly relating to deaths, serious illness and worry for friends or family within earshot. 
  • Children pick up more than we realise, and they may misinterpret or keep their feelings hidden from you.
  • Give your children extra attention and reassurance. 
  • Where possible, minimise their exposure to media and social media that may heighten anxiety.
  • Acknowledge your own feelings about the situation and let children know it is okay to share their own feelings
  • Include your children in plans and activities around the house

If you do not see an improvement in 4 weeks, or if you are concerned, seek professional help.

There are ways of seeking therapy Online such as:

  • ZOOM
  • Skype, 
  • WhatsApp, 
  • Messenger, and 
  • Webcam.

Remember, you are not alone, we are all in this together.