Coronavirus: 16 tips to help you cope in the new world we live in

Covid-19 has upended our lives completely. We now find ourselves in a new world of reduced social contacts, struggles to keep work going at home and losing jobs and keeping our distance from other people. While this might have been an interesting experiment for a few days, the prospects of doing this for weeks and even months without an end in sight is particularly challenging.

Below are 16 tips to help you cope:

1) Accept your new reality
Rather than just focusing on what you have lost or the disruption to your life, make a choice to go with the flow and adapt to your new reality. Ask yourself, how can I make the most of the new situation I am in?

2) Make a plan
Make a plan for each day as well as each week. Set a couple of goals you want to achieve each day and a couple of things you would like to have done by the end of each week.

3) Keep a good routine
Just because you are at home self-isolating, don’t give up on a normal routine. Get up at the normal time, and get dressed in the normal way and set regular times for meals, work periods and leisure times.

4) Include some exercise in your day
If you can, make sure to get out for a walk or a run. A bit of fresh air and exercise will make all the difference. If stuck indoors, focus on doing indoor bouts of exercise, such as press-ups or squats or yoga stretches. Take a moment to stand at an open window or on a balcony to breathe.

5) Make the most of mealtimes
You probably now have to cook more. Make the most of these times. Try to enjoy the challenge of cooking healthy meals. Are there new recipes you want to try?

6) Plan some time for leisure
Plan something fun and interesting each day. This could be as simple as reading a favourite book, playing music, cooking a new meal, doing a crossword, starting an online class (there are lots of these now), listening to an podcast, or watching a boxset.

7) Reach out to people
Make sure to phone/ video call someone important in your life. Use all the benefits of social media to keep in touch with friends.

8) Alternate your tasks
Divide the day into manageable units of time (eg, 30 mins) and allocate your daily tasks. For example, you might alternate between meditation/yoga (one unit), breakfast (one unit), work (five units), reading a book (two units), phoning your mother (one unit), going for a walk (one unit) etc.

9) Say hello to neighbours
When going out to the shop, be polite and warm with shop assistants and say hello to neighbours from a safe distance. Even simple chats with strangers can boost your mood.

10) Think about how you can help someone
In crises it is the people who help others who cope the best. Ring an elderly neighbour or a front-line worker to see if they need anything when you go shopping.

11) Watch your mental health
Notice early if it is all getting too much for you. If you find yourself getting depressed or anxious reach out for support from friends, family or access the sources of help online or on the phone. Be gentle on yourself and realise that hard times will pass.

12) Accept your feelings
Accept that you are likely to have good days and bad days. Some days you are going to feel fed up, frustrated, anxious or depressed. Listen to and accept your feelings. Remember that you are not alone.

13) Limit news and social media streams
While keeping up with the news is important, avoid over-exposure or obsessive tracking of news coverage which can leave you depressed or anxious. Make a routine of only checking at certain times.

14) Keep a journal
Keep a journal each evening. Take a break from the screens and use a pen to write and reflect about your experiences each day. The simple act of writing can help you put your experiences into context and can be enormously satisfying.

15) Practise gratitude
Each evening take a moment to note something good that happened that day that you are grateful. This could be as simple as a pleasant chat with a colleague, friend or neighbour. Write about the things you are grateful for in your daily journal.

16) Focus on silver linings
As well as the challenges, focus on the “silver linings” of self-isolation. What is good about what is happening? What are the opportunities? Perhaps it has provided you with time to slow down or to learn and do new things.

Prof John Sharry Parents Plus

First published in the Irish Times on 30th March 2020, see original article here

 

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Infant Mental Health Awareness Week runs from June 13th-19th.           

This week provides an opportunity to focus attention on the wellbeing, social and emotional development of our babies and young children. It highlights the importance of early relationships and a relationship based approach to interventions with infants and families. As our understanding of IMH and its evidence base develops, so also does our knowledge of how to apply this knowledge and an ‘IMH lens’ to interactions with infants, parents and caregivers in health and social services. 

What is infant mental health?

Infant Mental health (IMH) refers to the healthy social and emotional development of Infants starting at conception up to three years of age.

The first 1000 days of life are recognised as a critical period of opportunity to support infant mental health. Decades of research have shown that it is the quality of the early caregiver relationship that is a significant determinant of the infant’s healthy social and emotional development and in turn physical health, right up to adulthood.

 

The National Healthy Childhood Programme has embedded IMH as the foundation of the development of its resources and in the approach of the delivery of the universal child health service. This embedding of key messages can be seen in the My Child suite of books (www.mychild.ie/books) and also on www.MyChild.ie  where key messages around bonding and relationship building have been embedded for the parent/caregiver.

 

In clinical practice the topic of IMH has been included for the first time in the National Standardised Child Health Record. To build on this, the National Healthy Childhood Programme have just completed a suite of three eLearning units which are now available on HSEland for healthcare practitioners / caregivers who are working with children and families.  

 

Throughout the week you will see videos and key IMH messaging being promoted on the HSE MyChild social media pages ( Facebook / Instagram ). Keep an eye out in the National Newspapers for articles from our experts also. (IrishTimes article)  

 

In addition The National Healthy Childhood Programme have developed a series of ten practical videos with HSE expert advice which are now available on YouTube and on the relevant pages on the www.mychild.ie website.

These videos (2-3 minutes each) are aimed at parents/guardians of children (0 – 3 years).

These new video resources are available here while lots more expert advice for every step of pregnancy, baby and toddler health can also be found at www.mychild.ie

There are a suite of posters available focusing on the promotion of IMH messaging to order from healthy.childhood@hse.ie

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