Coronavirus – what public health measures are in place right now?

Where are we at with the Coronavirus? Is social distancing still so important? Can we meet up? We all have a lot of questions about the Coronavirus restrictions so here is some information from the Gov.ie website  https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/ explaining why it is so important that we keep up social distancing and hygiene habits and why we only travel when we need to. It is tough – but together we are making a difference. #holdfirm

Public health measures in place right now

From Department of Health;  Department of the Taoiseach

Published at: 27 March 2020

Last updated 23 May 2020

 

  • 1. Stay at home
  • 2. The only reasons you can leave your home
  • 3. Small groups outdoors
  • 4. Cultural and social measures
  • 5. Workers
  • 6. Retail, personal and commercial activities
  • 7. Health services
  • 8. Transport and travel

COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. Everyone is urged to stay at home whenever possible. Staying at home is the best way to minimise the spread of COVID-19 to ourselves, our families and our vulnerable people.

We are currently in Phase 1 of the government’s roadmap for reopening society and business. During Phase 1, you can leave your home for a wider range of reasons. You can also meet in small groups outdoors.

Social distancing should be maintained at all times.

You are advised to:

  • wash your hands well and often
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing, and discard used tissue safely
  • limit your contact with others when out and about
  • distance yourself at least 2 metres away from other people, especially those who might be unwell
  • avoid crowded areas. If an area looks busy, go somewhere else or return at a quieter time
  • wear a face covering in some situations where social distancing is not possible, for example in shops or on busy public transport. Wearing cloth face coverings may help prevent people who do not know they have the virus from spreading it to others. Guidance on safe use of face coverings is available here

Know the symptoms of COVID-19.

They are:

  • a fever (high temperature – 38 degrees Celsius or above)
  • a cough – this can be any kind of cough, not just dry
  • shortness of breath or breathing difficulties

If you have symptoms, self-isolate and contact your GP.

Stay at home

You should still stay at home whenever possible and only travel for essential reasons. This is the best way to minimise the risk of COVID-19 to your friends, families and communities.

People who are extremely medically vulnerable and people over 70 need to be especially vigilant to protect themselves as they are at the highest risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

If you are cocooning, you should continue to follow the public health advice to stay at home as much as possible and avoid physical contact with other people, except to leave home for exercise or a drive up to 5 kilometres.

When you go out for exercise, you may meet people in groups of up to 4. It is essential that you practice social distancing by staying 2 metres (6 feet) apart and avoid all physical contact. These measures are to protect you and your friends and family.

If you are cocooning, you should continue to avoid all shops and retail outlets and to stay at 2 metres (6 feet) distance from other people when outdoors at all times. Guidance for those who are cocooning is available here.

The only reasons you can leave your home

Stay at home in all circumstances, except in the following situations:

  • to travel to and from work, if your work cannot be carried out from home
  • to shop for essential food and household goods
  • to attend medical appointments and collect medicines
  • for vital family reasons, such as providing care to children, elderly or vulnerable people – but excluding social family visits
  • for farming purposes – that is food production or care of animals
  • to engage in physical exercise within 5 kilometres of home, adhering to 2 metre social distancing
  • to meet with friends or family within 5 kilometres in groups of no more than 4, adhering to 2 metre social distancing
  • to escape domestic violence

You can also leave your home to avail of the expanded list of retail services as set out below.

Small groups outdoors

Groups of up to 4 people who are not from the same household can meet outdoors. This can include a family meeting an individual friend or neighbour, a group of individuals meeting outdoors, and two couples meeting outdoors.

Social distancing should be maintained with all people keeping 2 metres apart.

Meetings should be within 5 kilometres of the households of those involved.

You are advised to limit the number of people you meet with outdoors. The more contact you have – the greater you risk getting and spreading the virus.

Cultural and social measures

Outdoor public amenities and tourism sites such as parks, beaches, mountain walks, heritage and cultural sites have reopened.

Outdoor sports facilities such as pitches, tennis courts and golf courses have also reopened.

Social distancing measures must be implemented at all of these sites.

You can practice sport or fitness activities in groups of up to 4 but you must maintain social distancing, minimise contact, and not share equipment.

You should not travel beyond 5 kilometres from where you live to visit any of the above facilities.

Workers

Anyone who can work from home should continue to do so.

A phased return to work for outdoor workers has begun. This includes construction workers, gardeners and so on. A full list of occupations covered by this advice can be accessed here.

Employers are advised to apply the Return to Work Safely Protocol. This has been designed to support employers and workers to put measures in place that will prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Employers should also have a COVID-19 Response Plan in place.

Employers should put measures in place to reduce the number of workers interacting with each other onsite at work at any one time. These could include having a smaller number of workers return initially, shift work, and staggered hours.

Workplaces should be adequately prepared for the return of workers. Public health advice to limit the spread of COVID-19 (hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, social distancing, wearing of face coverings) should be communicated to all staff. Cleaning schedules, waste disposal arrangements, arrangements to encourage social distancing between workers and alternative arrangements where social distancing is not always possible should be implemented.

If you are feeling sick – you should stay at home and not go to work.

If you have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 – you should stay at home and not go to work.

Employers are advised to proactively engage with official authorities as they reopen and to consult with public health authorities on ways to minimise the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in the workplace.

Retail, personal and commercial activities

Additional retailers have reopened. All must implement social distancing arrangements in their premises to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. All must also apply the Return to Work Safely Protocol.

Retail outlets that have reopened include:

  1. Retail outlets that are primarily outdoor (for example, garden centres, farmer’s markets, and hardware stores)
  2. Retail outlets, in addition to those that were already open.

These include:

  • opticians and optometrists, outlets providing hearing test services, selling hearing aids and appliances
  • retailers involved in the sale, supply and repair of motor vehicles, motorcycles and bicycle repair and related facilities
  • hardware stores, builders’ merchants and stores that provide hardware products necessary for home and business maintenance, sanitation and farm equipment, supplies and tools essential for gardening / farming /agriculture
  • retail sale of office products and services for individuals working from home and for businesses
  • retailers providing electrical, IT and phone sales, repair and maintenance services for home and businesses

Retailers must put measures in place in their stores to minimise the spread of infection among customers and staff.

These could include:

  • protective screens and barriers
  • operating new queueing approaches
  • limiting the number of customers and staff per store at any one time
  • providing cleaning stations
  • increasing store cleaning and hygiene
  • considering store layout to facilitate social distancing
  • extending opening hours to reduce crowding
  • implementing car park restrictions

Stores should be adequately prepared for the return of employees and customers. Public health advice to limit the spread of COVID-19 (hand hygiene, good respiratory etiquette, social distancing, wearing of face coverings) should be communicated to all staff. Cleaning schedules, waste disposal arrangements, arrangements to encourage social distancing between workers and alternative arrangements where social distancing is not always possible should be implemented.

If you are feeling sick – you should stay at home and not go to work.

If you have been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 – you should stay at home and not go to work.

Retailers are advised to proactively engage with official authorities as they reopen and to consult with public health authorities on ways to minimise the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in their stores.

Health services

  • all non-essential surgery, health procedures and other non-essential health services are postponed
  • all visits to hospitals, residential healthcare centres, other residential settings or prisons are stopped with specific exemptions on compassionate grounds
  • pharmacists are allowed by law to dispense medicines outside the dates spelled out in prescriptions according to their own professional judgement

Transport and travel

Travel restrictions are implemented as follows:

  • there is a nationwide restriction on travel outside of 5 kilometres from your home, except for the reasons listed above
  • travel to Ireland’s offshore islands is limited to residents of those islands
  • local authorities have relaxed on-street parking laws to meet the travel needs of workers
  • the arrival of personal non-national maritime leisure vessels is banned (except to exceptions as ‘port in a storm’)

The measures above are reflected in the regulations under the Health (Preservation and Protection and Other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 and will be enforced by the Garda Síochána.

 

Dealing with fake health information during the coronavirus pandemic

We are all aware that not everything you read on social media can be trusted. Even when it comes to Coronavirus there are people who are spreading false information and we need to be careful what we believe. Below is a good article from the HSE on this. You can access this article and more at https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/

Dealing with fake health information during the coronavirus pandemic

Some online content can contain misinformation also known as “fake news”. This can be information that is completely false, not fully accurate or not supported by experts.

Health is important to everyone. This is why false or misleading health information is a big problem.

It is really important to question where information has come from. Take your time to check it out against reliable sources of information. This will help you decide if you can trust the advice.

We can help to stop the spread of misinformation by learning how to spot it, not believing it and not sharing it with others.

The problem with fake health information

Fake news about health may give you the wrong advice about how best to manage your health and wellbeing. If you take false information as fact, it may mislead you into making the wrong decisions. It can also cause unnecessary worry and confusion.

During the coronavirus pandemic, it may change your behaviour and attitudes towards:

  • the virus
  • other people
  • how to protect yourself and others

Why people create fake news

The aim of misinformation and fake news is to influence your views and behaviour.

People who create fake news may wish to:

  • get more visits to a website – known as “click-bait”
  • get private information from users – for example, “phishing scams”
  • counteract accurate information with false information
  • cause panic
  • show popularity by how many people the message reaches

Why people share fake news

Sharing health-related information is normal. We want to prevent the spread of infection and tackle the problem by supporting each other. This is generally done with good intentions.

Sometimes people trust and share information even though it is not trustworthy.

We may do this because:

  • the information is similar to our own beliefs or views
  • there is a sense of urgency to help others, particularly with the elderly or vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic
  • it seems accurate because other similar information and announcements have been shared online

Question where information has come from and take your time to decide if you trust it before sharing it.

How misinformation may appear

Misinformation can be difficult to spot. It can be a mix of accurate and inaccurate information. There can be some information from reliable sources with some from unreliable sources.

Some misinformation messages have contained some accurate information mixed with inaccurate information. For example, accurate information about washing your hands and social distancing measures mixed in with false details about coronavirus or protection measures. This combination makes the piece untrustworthy overall.

Other misinformation messages are completely inaccurate. For example, false information about activities involving the armed forces, government measures other than the official guidance and stories about treatment which are not supported by experts.

Some misinformation messages try to gain your trust by claiming to come from a reliable source. For example, a close friend or family of a member of an Gardaí or the defence forces. This is to try and reassure you that the information is trustworthy and worth sharing.

How to spot and deal with misinformation

The best way to deal with misinformation is to not share messages you don’t trust.

Question the source

Question the source of the information and identify who the author is. Are they trustworthy? If you are not sure, look for more information.

Find other sources of information

Identify other sources of information and compare them to the message and fact check.

Don’t share chain messages

Do not share chain messages with health-related information without a trusted source.

Talk to the sender

If you think you have received an inaccurate message, speak with the person who sent it. Highlight that the information might not be accurate. Direct them to the HSE or other official information sources.

Consider the intention of the message

Think about whether there is a financial motive or an attempt to deceive you. It could also just be for the creator’s enjoyment – this is known as “trolling”.

Speak with friends and family

Speak with your friends and family about social media messages or online discussions. Make sure people close to you are not putting their trust in false information.

Advice for parents

Many young children and adolescents will be reading and hearing the same misinformation.

Talk to them about how to deal with misinformation. Have an open conversation to discuss any concerns they have about coronavirus.

Read the Irish Internet Safety Office resource about news and false information.

Reliable health information sources

Websites where you can find reliable information about coronavirus:

HSE on social media

We are advertising on social media platforms to reach a large audience with our expert validated content about coronavirus.

We are working in partnership with Google, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Users in Ireland are now directed to HSE.ie content when they search for coronavirus information on those platforms.

For example, if you search for information about coronavirus on Twitter, you will see ‘Know the facts’ and a link to our coronavirus content.

coronavirus-screenshot1
Coronavirus information – Twitter

Here’s how it looks on Facebook and Instagram.

coronavirus-screenshot-2
Coronavirus information – Facebook
coronavirus-screenshot-3
Coronavirus information – Instagram

We continue to publish factual information on all our social channels.

You can get our updates by joining us on:

Beware of criminals pretending to be the World Health Organisation – WHO.int

Content supplied by Dr. Liam Challenor

Coping with grief in the time of Covid 19 – tips from Jigsaw

The Jigsaw website provides great well being and mental health support for young people and for their families. Sadly, some families are dealing with grief at the moment – because of Covid 19 or other causes –  and it can cause added stress when we can’t come together to support each other as we would have done in the past. The article below is reproduced from the Jigsaw website and you can access the original here https://jigsawonline.ie/young-people/grief-and-loss-in-exceptional-times/

Grief and loss in exceptional times – Jigsaw Online

During the past few months so much has changed in our world. Certain things continue – people get sick, people die, people die suddenly. And sadly, many people have died of Covid-19.

But, everything feels quite different now, when the usual rituals and coming together are no longer available to us. There is no right way to feel, or to grieve the loss of someone we love. However, there might be some things we can do to ease the pain and strangeness a little. Of course, they will be different for everyone and it’s about finding your own way.

Saying goodbye

This can be especially difficult when someone we love is in hospital or a nursing home, and we are not allowed to visit. If they are well enough to talk on the phone or Facetime, then this can be a helpful way to connect.

You may prefer to remember the person as they were when they were well, and that’s OK too. Try writing a letter to express what you would like to say or what you didn’t get to say. This can feel supportive whether your loved one reads it or not.

Managing the funeral or service

Funerals and services are very different now; only attended by a few people. If you’re not able to go the service, then stay in touch with friends and family who are attending virtually. Remember, you are not alone.

When attending via live-stream, try to watch with friends and family. If this is not possible, connect with someone afterwards either on the phone or text.

It’s also OK not to watch, or to step away half way through if you prefer. You could think about setting up or attending a virtual family gathering afterwards. Come together to remember your loved one, exchange photos or play music that reminds you of them.

Other ways to remember

Some people find it helpful to create a memory box, either on your own or with family and friends. Gather photographs, objects, items that remind you of your loved one. Decorate your box.

If you have a garden space or even a pot on a windowsill, planting some flowers or a tree is a lovely way to honour of them. Many of the garden centres are opening up now, but you can also buy online, or ask neighbours or friends to help.

“It can help to gently name and acknowledge the feelings without judgement”

Allow your feelings

You are likely to feel a whole rush of different feelings at this time. These can include things like:

  • feeling OK one moment and not the next
  • moving from sad to confused to angry to happy in a few minutes
  • feeling relief rather than grief
  • loneliness, or preferring the privacy and quiet time you have just now
  • physical feelings such as a heaviness in your chest or a churning in your stomach
  • maybe you don’t feel that much at all.

It can sometimes help to gently name and acknowledge the feelings, without judgement and without moving too deeply into them. When names don’t come easily for a feeling, make up a word that works. Bleurgh, fuzzy, sparkly, numb – whatever word or nonsense word that works for you. Try and allow your experience, no matter what it is.

Use your senses

If you are experiencing strong feelings and struggling with grief, using your senses can help to ground you. Sometimes it can be helpful to ground through your hands and feet.

Walk in the back garden or in your bedroom in your bare feet. Steal some playdoh from your younger sibling and roll it in your hands.

Gather together a ‘soothe box’. Put in an item for each sense – something soft like a cosy blanket or jumper, a smell you like, a picture that calms you, and some music that you like. Take time for you. Wrap yourself up, with your favourite hot drink and listen to music.

 >> Listen to Jigsaw clinician Leona talk through a grounding tool called ‘ACE’

Talk or don’t talk

Some days it might helpful to be connected in with others, and sometimes you might want to be alone. That’s OK. Just be careful of cutting yourself off completely. It can be good to find ways to connect with other people that don’t involve much talking. Watching movies or playing games together, either online or with people in your home.

Remember it’s OK to laugh and to have fun in moments, and that it’s actually quite healing. Talk to family and friends about your loved one who has died if that feels right. Writing down how you feel is good too, if you’re not ready to talk.

Take a look at ways to contact Jigsaw if you would prefer to talk to someone outside your network.

Do what helps

This is the time to do those things you enjoy and are able to do in your own home. For example:

  • use a creative outlet that you find supportive, like playing an instrument
  • play video games, or watch a favourite series or film
  • do your best to eat well and rest well, even if you don’t feel like it
  • being in nature can  be very healing, so do try to get outside.

You might find comfort in returning to your study/work routine. Or perhaps concentration is difficult so give yourself permission to do nothing. Just let things settle as they are with no judgement.

>> Get some ideas from young people and Jigsaw clinicians about self-care during covid-19

 

 

 

Teenagers, socialising and social distancing

Do you have teenagers who are keen to meet up with friends but worry that their friends may ignore social distancing advice? Linda, a Clinician with Jigsaw has some advice for Kayla, a young teenager who finds herself in that position.

Ask Jigsaw: Friends not social distancing

I met up with my friends today and it was a bit underwhelming. It was great to see them but it also made me very nervous. First of all there was 7 of us, but the thing that stressed me out the most was the lack of social distancing. A few of us tried to at the start, but it got so difficult especially when some friends kept trying to get close to me. This really annoyed me and when i confronted them they brushed it off and said ‘a sure we will all get it at some stage’.

I understand that some of them are not in tune with irish news and it could be down to innocent ignorance, but its impossible to convince them to even try. Some people in my family are at risk, so social distancing really matters for me.

At the same time, I get serious Fear Of Missing Out when it comes to passing on hanging out, so I dont know what to do now. Any ideas on what i should do?

Also Id like to say a massive thank you for doing all the work you guys do, it means so much as a young person to have a place like this to fall back on when i need support:)

-Kayla

Look at the plan for raising restrictions and have a think about what you can and can’t do with your friends.

LInda, the Jigsaw Clinician replies to Kayla:-

Hi Kayla,

Firstly, thank you for your kind words about our service. It’s our aim to provide support for young people like you, so it means a lot to hear that you can rely on us.

It sounds like you’re in a tricky social situation and I’m sure that many of us will face similar situations, if not now then in the future.

Know your boundaries

As you’re aware, the current restrictions in place are for the safety and wellbeing of everyone. They are the guidelines we have to live by to protect ourselves and others. I can understand your frustration as your friends break these rules. Check with yourself about what you’re comfortable with.  Look at the plan for raising restrictions and have a think about what you can and can’t do with your friends in advance so you can be clear about where your boundaries are. Remember, you can still keep in touch with out seeing people face to face if you decide to wait.

Agree in advance to challenge those who flout the guidelines, and to walk away if it continues.

Get others on board

Often in groups, we follow the lead of one or two people. When you are in the group it can be hard to be the one person who stands up and says something is wrong. Try speaking individually to a few of the people involved to highlight your concerns and the reasons why social distancing is important to you.

Using assertive communication, you can explain how you feel when people don’t stick to the guidelines. If possible a few of you can agree in advance to challenge those who flout the guidelines, and to walk away if it continues. It is easier to tackle if a few of you are united, rather than feeling you are the one being ‘awkward’.

It’s about respect

It’s not okay for our friends to put us, or our loved ones, in danger. When people break social distancing rules by coming too close – this is exactly what they are doing. Mutual respect is the foundation of friendships and something that we all deserve.

We need our friends now more than ever, and of course you will feel FOMO if you stop contact. Thankfully, if our friends follow social distancing rules, we can still hang out without harming anyone. Your friends should respect your choice and if they don’t, it could be worth considering meeting individual friends that do.

Take care,

 Linda, Jigsaw Clinician

If there is a young person in your family who has a question for Jigsaw they can contact them here https://jigsawonline.ie/young-people/live-group-chats/

Great support for the well being and mental health of young people and for their parents/guardians is available from Jigsaw https://jigsawonline.ie/

Helping Leaving Cert students to understand the Calculated Grades process

The Coronavirus pandemic has made things particularly difficult for this year’s Leaving Certificate students. There was a lot of uncertainty about what would happen. Now that a decision has been made that students will receive Calculated Grades many students and their parents probably still have a lot of questions. Here is some information from the Department of Education website which you can access at https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/leaving-cert-2020.html

Here is a guide to how the calculated grades process works is available here https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and answers https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/2f07eb-leaving-cert-2020-information/#information-for-leaving-cert-students

This instructional video is designed to assist schools, further education and training centres, and all other settings in the process of arriving at an estimated mark in class rank order for each student but you might find it useful to see how calculated grades are arrived at.

Here is a podcast about well being for our Leaving Cert students which may be useful to you.

https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf

https://www.education.ie/en/Learners/Information/State-Examinations/a-guide-to-calculated-grades-for-leaving-certificate-students-2020.pdf

 

Fun relaxation games for families

There may be a lot of stress around at the moment – for parents and for children. Here Josephine Meehan from Springboard Family Support Project shares some fun relaxation games for families which can help us to unwind. This article is part of the “Parenting through Covid 19 – helpful hints to keep home life happy” which was produced by the staff of Springboard Family Support Project and Finn Valley Family Resource Centre.

When some people think of mindfulness they conjure up images of Buddhist monks sitting alone on a mountain chanting! However as a parent I have found mindful practices a valuable resource for my self-care toolbox. It is a great gift to instill in children which they can use in lots of different situations they may have to face in the future. It really is just about paying attention to the present moment. The best way to teach a child to be mindful is to practice mindfulness yourself. It is not always easy to stay calm and mindful, believe me I know!

Here is a simple technique for parents or caregivers who find themselves upset and out of touch with the present moment.

  • Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.
  • Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment.
  • Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, the good or bad, inside you or in the environment. Just note it.
  • Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.

There are lots of mindfulness videos, music and helpful resources and techniques available free online, but just remember not to get too bogged down in the science of it or whether you are doing it right or not. Mindfulness for children should be fun and help us as parents/carers to explore, reflect and learn about ourselves and our children. We are all on a learning journey.

Here are a few simple exercises that will encourage relaxation in a playful and
interactive way for parents and children.

Pretend you have a nice smelling flower in one hand and a slow burning candle in the other. Breathe in slowly through your nose as you smell the flower. Breathe out slowly through your mouth as you blow out the candle. Repeat a few times.

 

Imagine you can reach up to the tree and pick a lemon with each hand. Pretend you have a lemon in each hand. Squeeze the lemons hard to get all the juice out – squeeze, squeeze and squeeze. Throw the lemons on the floor and relax your hands. Then repeat, until you have enough juice for a glass of lemonade! After your last squeeze and throw, shake out your hands to relax.

Pretend you are a lazy cat that just woke up from a lovely, long nap. Have a big yawn and a meow. Now stretch out your arms, legs and back slowly like a cat and relax.

 

.
Pretend you are a feather floating through the air for ten seconds. Suddenly you freeze and transform into a statue. Don’t move! Then slowly relax as you
transform back into the floating feather again. Repeat as many times as you like making sure to finish as a floating feather in a relaxed state.

 

Pretend you are a turtle going for a slow, relaxed turtle walk. Oh no, it’s started to rain! Curl up tight under your shell for about ten seconds. The sun’s out again, so come out of your shell and return to your relaxing walk. Repeat a few times, making sure to finish with a walk so that your body is relaxed.

Our thanks to Josephine Meehan Family Support Worker, Springboard for these great ideas. You can find more helpful hints to keep home life happy here

https://www.cypsc.ie/_fileupload/Documents/Resources/Donegal/FVFRC%20-%20Parenting%20through%20Covid%2019%20Booklet%202.pdf

 

Minding your mental health during the Coronavirus pandemic

It is perfectly normal to be finding life stressful at the moment. We are living in extraordinary times and so it is really important to look after ourselves. Here are some good tips from the HSE website  https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html about minding our mental health.

Minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Infectious disease pandemics like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

How it might affect your mental health

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus. Try to remember this when you feel worried.

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

You may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.

How to mind your mental health during this time

Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.

We also have guides on:

Stay informed but set limits for news and social media

The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.

If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.

For example, you could try to:

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.

If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:

  • e-mail
  • social media
  • video calls
  • phone calls
  • text messages

Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.

Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don’t have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.

Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health. If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.

Don’t make assumptions

Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.

Online and phone supports

Face-to-face services are limited at the moment because of the coronavirus outbreak. But some services are providing online and phone services.

Find mental health supports and services that can help during COVID-19 outbreak

If you are using mental health services for an existing mental health condition

If things get difficult, it can be helpful to have a plan to help you get through.

Things you can do:

  • have a list of numbers of mental health service and relatives or friends you can call if you need support
  • keep taking any medication and continue to fill your prescription with support from your GP or psychiatrist
  • continue with any counselling or psychotherapy session you have
  • limit your news intake and only use trusted sources of information
  • practice relaxation techniques and breathing exercises

If your condition gets worse, contact your mental health team or GP.

If you have an intellectual disability

If you have an intellectual disability, you may feel more worried or sad because of coronavirus. Staying at home could be difficult for you. You could also be worried about your family or those close to you.

It is important to take care of yourself. Try to keep a routine, shower every day and eat healthy food

Follow the advice to stay at home. You can keep in touch with people you trust over the phone or the internet.

Read advice about supporting someone with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice on minding your mental health visit inclusionireland.ie

It is also important to prevent spreading the virus. For information on how to do this, read the HSE Coronavirus Easy-Read Information Booklet.

OCD and coronavirus

If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:

  • catching coronavirus
  • causing harm to others
  • things not being in order

Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:

  • hand hygiene
  • cleanliness
  • avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport

Washing your hands

The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.

Follow the advice above. Wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.

Read more about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, treatment and getting help.

Happy families: Parent tips for managing child behaviour at home

In this excellent article Sue Cowley, Early Years Educator, gives some expert tips on minimising stress while at home. The article is reproduced below or you can download the original article here https://famly.co/blog/covid-19/sue-cowley-managing-behaviour-at-home/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=UKIE%3A+ES+Content&utm_content=ES-V105-Home-Behaviour-1080×1080&utm_term=E119-Home-Behaviour

In the current situation, most families will be spending more time together than normal. Many parents will also be trying to work from home, while also providing care and instruction for their children. In addition, families are likely to be stuck indoors more than usual.

All these changes to your regular routines mean that you may be feeling tense, anxious or stressed at the moment, and your child may pick up on these emotions. This can easily manifest itself in tensions around your child’s behaviour, at a time when the last thing that any of us want to do is to get into family arguments.

Read on for plenty of strategies to help you remain happy and minimise conflict during the lockdown.

Be proactive rather than reactive

There is a tendency for us to wait for poor behaviour to happen, and then to react to it after the event. Similarly, we tend to pay attention to the behaviours that annoy us, but it’s more helpful to highlight positive behaviours every time they happen.

Make sure you praise your child when they are behaving well – “Thank you so much for being so helpful!” It might feel a bit fake at first, but affirming them being good is a great way to encourage better behaviour.

Say what you need

Make sure to actively promote the behaviour you want to see, because this supports your child in understanding your expectations and learning how to do the right thing. Use a statement such as “Let’s see how quickly you can get dressed!” or “I need you to help me lay the table, thanks!” to create a clear target. Reinforce your child’s cooperative behaviours with the use of praise: “Wow, you got dressed extra fast today – well done!”.

It’s all too easy to fall into the habit of using rhetorical questions when faced with poor behaviours. It’s that moment when your child is making a mess with their toys, and you say to them in an exasperated voice, “Why are you doing that?”. You don’t actually want an answer to your question – it is an expression of your irritation.

Instead of phrasing your frustrations around behaviour as questions, make statements to your child about what you would like to see them doing and then support them in doing it. “We need to sort the toys out into the right boxes – let’s do it together!”

Using the tactical ignore

The ‘tactical ignore’ is a vital tool in every parent’s behaviour toolkit. Whenever we pay attention to any kind of behaviour, whether positive or negative, we reinforce it. Refusing to pay attention to poor behaviour can help to minimise it, because your child starts to understand that you will give them your energy and attention when they are doing the right thing.

Clearly if a behaviour is dangerous you need to get your child to stop quickly. Use a firm voice, combined with a command: “You need to stop that right now.” But if the behaviour is not doing any immediate damage, it is often better to ignore it, or suggest a positive alternative.

Remember to look for the learning in the everyday household tasks that you still need to do, from playing with the bubbles as you wash up together, to wiping tables or pulling up weeds. Your young child will enjoy the chance to help you with all of these!

Using distractions

Young children have very short attention spans, so make use of this fact when dealing with their behaviour. Distractions can be very effective, particularly if your child is working their way up to a tantrum, because it throws the child off track from an outburst. You might point to a bird outside the window, pick up a musical toy and shake it, or suggest a quick helping task.

Parents might worry that ignoring or distracting from poor behaviour means letting the child ‘get away with it’, but in reality the main goal for this age group is the development of what we call self-regulation. This means the ability to regulate our own emotions and behaviours.

Children of this age are not being naughty on purpose – their behaviour is just not that calculated. Your child needs you to help them learn to behave through a process called co-regulation, where the adult works together with the child to help them develop internal control.

Handing over control

It is very tempting to try to micromanage your child’s routine, in order to try and stop them getting bored, tired, or under/over stimulated. However, it is really important for your child to have a say in what they do each day, and also to have a chance to manage their own reactions to complex emotions. This will give them a sense of purpose and will also support their ability to regulate.

Let your child take some ownership of their learning and behaviour. This will help them feel more motivated and in control. Try to step back from always intervening – learning to deal with and manage emotions such as boredom or frustration is a crucial part of child development. We cannot do this for our children, we can only support them in learning how to manage it by themselves.

Boosting self-regulation

When it comes to behaviour in the early years, probably the most important thing of all for your child to learn is how to self-regulate. This will set them up for success in the future, because it will help them understand how to behave appropriately in different situations. It will also support them in focusing their attention, which is especially useful once they get to school.

A really useful way to encourage the development of self-regulation is to narrate the ‘why’ behind the behaviour you have asked for. This helps your child understand why you want them to do this particular thing. Always try to add a ‘because’ to your statements about how you need your child to behave.

Supporting your own mental health

Given the unusual and difficult circumstances we are in at the moment, it is really important for families to support their own mental health where they possibly can. The better you feel, the more able you will be to manage your child’s behaviour when they are being difficult.

Do make sure that you and your child get outside for a daily dose of daylight, whether in a garden or by going on a walk. Sunlight helps to boost our mood and being outdoors in the natural world can also be calming.

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you set overly ambitious targets, you are likely to be unable to meet them, and consequently to feel disappointed or frustrated. It is far better to be realistic about what you can achieve, especially in the current circumstances. For instance, it may work better to focus on one sustained period of quality play with your child, rather than trying to play with them but with half an eye on the work you need to do from home.

Try not to heap guilt on yourself, by making comparisons with what you think other parents are achieving. It is okay not to feel okay in the current situation and to sometimes get a bit snappy – be kind to yourself if sometimes you don’t get it completely right.

Sue Cowley is an author and teacher educator. She has helped to run her local early years setting for the last ten years. Her latest book is “The Ultimate Guide to Mark Making in the Early Years”, published by Bloomsbury.

 

Parenting and the importance of liking your adolescent

This interesting article from Psychology Today looks at the complicated relationship between parents and teenagers

Many parents value the importance of love but underestimate the power of liking.

Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.
Source: Carl Pickhardt Ph.D.

Adolescence is the time when you and your child still love each other as always, but often don’t like each other as much.” So I was told on good parental authority.

The notion was that while childhood was filled with taking pleasure in each other’s company, adolescence is often about parent and teenager putting up with how each other have become harder to live with.

What follows is why I believe that active liking is an important part of effectively parenting an adolescent.

Less liking from the loss of childhood

For the parents, gone is the adoring and adorable little child whose tag-along company they miss. For the adolescent, gone are the perfectly wonderful parents and the fun-loving company they used to be. For both parent and changing child, adolescence begins with some loss of mutual enjoyment, and liking is its name.

Come adolescence, a lessening of traditional liking on both sides of the relationship can occur.

Although it can feel easy to blame each other for this disaffection, the real culprit is growth. Now, three developmental engines – separation, experimentation, and opposition – drive the adolescent transformation toward more independence and individuality. Now more contention can occur. “You haven’t done what I asked!” collides with, “I said I would, in a while!”

Increased abrasion from normal differences starts wearing down the old connection between them, gradually growing them more apart from each other, which is what the coming of age passage is meant to accomplish.

Love is not enough

To some parents, this partial loss of liking seems like no big deal so long as lasting love remains strong because, surely, loving counts more than liking. Yes and no. If you could only have one, certainly love would be the best choice. However, never underestimate the power of parental liking. Consider it this way.

The power of parental love is nurturing attachment on which trust in the lasting power of this unconditional commitment depends. “I know my parents have always loved me and always will.” We are talking about foundational presence here.

The power of parental liking is providing approval from their high authority on which much conditional self-esteem depends. “I think well of myself because my parents have always thought well of me.” We are talking about formative influence here.

Early adolescence and self-dislike

Young adolescents can dislike themselves more than they did as children on two counts: first, when they separate from childhood and second when they enter puberty.

Most young people separate from childhood and start adolescence (around ages 9 to 13) with fewer grounds for liking themselves because they must let go of some traditional enjoyments that kept them feeling good. Growing up is a ruthless process because it requires giving up along the way. So they reject beloved interests, activities, and objects because: “I don’t want kid stuff anymore!” However, it takes a while to replace these supports, and until they are found, the young person can feel beset by that painful state of self-dislike, boredom: “I don’t know what to do with myself! I hate having nothing I like to do!”

When young people enter puberty, coming into sexual maturity can cause physical changes and social self-consciousness that engenders a lot of self-dislike about personal appearance and unpopularity: “I don’t like how I look”; “Not many people like me.” At worst, public teasing can cause the young person to dislike themselves even more: “It just shows what’s wrong with me!” (Parents need to explain: “Teasing is not about anything wrong with you; it just shows what is wrong with teasers – acting mean.”)

With peers, the adolescent is not usually looking to be loved; but she or he is definitely looking to be liked — to be approved, welcomed, befriended, and popular. Now to be socially liked becomes extremely important, and to be socially disliked can be extremely painful. “No one wants me to sit with them at lunch.” To be unliked can lead to isolation.

The relationship between liking and love

Because love amplifies one’s power of liking – of approval and disapproval – criticism from a loved one can hurt the most. Thus, the angry or defiant teenage statement to upset parents is usually a lie: “I don’t care what you think of me anyway!” In truth, I believe most adolescents want to shine in parental eyes. In consequence, there can be the need not to disappoint, the concern that wrongful actions can harm the relationship, even fear that loss of partial liking may endanger their love.

Thus sometimes in response to an infraction of a significant rule, parental reassurance may need to be given to the anxious offender who wonders if they’ve really “torn the relationship with parents now.” Sensing this insecurity, parents explain, “Just because we don’t like how you acted doesn’t mean we don’t love the person you are.” Then they give a non-evaluative correction to deal with the wrongdoing, with no criticism of character expressed. “We just disagree with the choice you made, this is why, this is what we need to have happen now, and we are ready to hear whatever you have to say.”

Examples of active liking

So how might an adolescent experience active parental liking? Ten examples follow.

  1.  “You enjoy my company.”
  2. “You welcome my friends.”
  3. “You compliment my efforts.”
  4. “You support my goals.”
  5. “You listen with attention.”
  6. “You respect my needs.”
  7. “You appreciate my interests.”
  8. “You value my opinion.”
  9. “You laugh at my humor.”
  10. “You’re glad to see me.”

While parents should be steadfast in loving their adolescents, they should be constant in actively liking this young person, too.

You can read the original article here  https://www.psychologytoday.com/ie/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/202004/parenting-and-the-importance-liking-your-adolescent

About the Author

Five steps to strengthening your immune system

One of the things we can do to help ourselves at the moment is to strengthen our immune system. In the article below Dr Mercey Livingston explores what the immune system is and how it works and suggests five ways in which we can strengthen our immune system.

  • Nutrition – avoiding junk food and eating a healthy diet
  • Supplements especially Vitamin C, Zinc and Vitamin D
  • Sleep – with an average of eight hours recommended and more for children and teenagers
  • Moderate regular exercise – which also is a great stress reliever and mood booster
  • Reducing stress – may be easier said than done but finding some activity which calms you, whether it is meditation, music, walking etc

Read the article in full at https://www.cnet.com/health/5-ways-to-strengthen-your-immunity-according-to-an-md/