Coping with Covid-19 (Coronavirus) and Self-Isolation
Our world and perception of our everyday lives seem to have changed so much over the past month. To date on the island of Ireland (4th April 2020 14:00) the confirmed cases of Covid-19 stands officially at 5177 with 168 deaths [ROI= 4273 cases & 120 deaths NI= 904 cases & 48 deaths]. Covid-19 has created a lot of fear amongst populations, an unknown mortality rate, stretched (broken) health systems and is creating immediate and devastating financial impacts to global stock markets with the economic reality for most people still to come. March 2020 has been a tough time for all of us.
We have been asked to #StayAtHome and only go out when absolutely necessary for essential items to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, this seems a very small ask when compared with the key workers who are risking themselves daily in order to save lives and provide care, medicines and food.
You may find that social distancing and staying at home can be boring, frustrating or lonely and that your mood and feelings are affected. You may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping and you might miss being with other people.
It’s important to remember the actions that we are taking by staying at home may be difficult, but that they are helping to slow spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
This can be a real challenge for most of us and there has been lots of advice and tips in how to pass the time online but here are some from Pharmhealth.
Helping Mental Wellbeing
- Routine – Pushed out of our normal routine is one of the things that can make us vulnerable to our moods deteriorating. It’s important if you’re working from home and/or looking after kids at home to have a routine. So, whether that’s having set times that you do things, getting up and dressed or doing tasks around the house, have a plan, because that’s what keeps us going in our normal day-to-day lives.
- Talk to your children –Most children have already heard about coronavirus or seen people wearing face masks on TV. Children can take their cues from adults, so if you’re worried, they may be also. Try to answer your child’s questions in a way that is developmentally appropriate. Be as factual and truthful as possible. Every child has his or her own way of expressing emotions and sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing or drawing, can facilitate this process. Children feel relieved if they can express and communicate their feelings in a safe and supportive environment.
- Support for older people – Older adults, especially who are cocooning and those with dementia, may become more anxious, angry, stressed, agitated and withdrawn during the coronavirus outbreak and while having to stay indoors. Share simple facts about what is going on and give clear information about how to reduce risk of infection in words that they can understand. Repeat the information whenever necessary and keep in regular contact by telephone, email, social media or video calls.
- Exercise – Many of us do not require gym equipment to work out and simple bodyweight exercises or cans of beans can be enough for strength. There are numerous workouts available on You Tube to suit everyone’s needs be it working with the kids or learning to dance videos. At the time of writing getting outside (less than 2km from home and following social distancing guidance of 2 metres) is still recommended and will benefit your mental health and strengthen your immune system.
- Share the Positives – Many of you will have experienced and seen the sense of togetherness this crisis has been bringing communities closer in ways that have surprised us all. There have been some inspiring local stories and kindnesses posted on social media that really do lift the spirit. These positive stories need more exposure, to ensure a balance is maintained between relevant and vital news and developments or changes that indicate improvements. We’re in this together as the saying goes so by sharing positive stories on the likes of #goodnewsireland we can keep everyone’s spirits up.
- Tech Connect– using video conference calls (Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime) to stay in touch with family and friends will help us connect whilst we are unable to see each other. Church services are also being streamed online.
- Get your sunshine vitamin – a difficult one if you can’t get out, the sun’s too low this time of year to allow your skin to produce vitamin D. Vitamin D is essential in supporting your immune system and supplements at this time can help.
- Sleep – Get plenty of good quality sleep to prime your immune system. With our lives normally so fast-paced we don’t often get an opportunity to be at home as much. So, take advantage by catching up on some well needed rest. Avoiding blue light from screens or reading news reports late into the night can also help.
- Learn something new – some of us will inevitably have more time on our hands and learning something new is a tried and tested way of passing the time productively and positively. It could be a new language, a new piece of music, learning to paint or that recipe you have been meaning to try (if you can find the ingredients!)
- Avoid the “Infodemic” – perhaps the hardest aspect of this is the deluge of information which can add to an elevated state of anxiety. It’s important to try to minimise the negative impact coronavirus has, so try to avoid over-exposure to news coverage of the virus. Perhaps looking to limit this to a short 10-minute morning and evening read of your preferred media channel can help with cognitive overload.
We are lucky in this day and age to have internet resources to keep in touch and to find advice. Find some useful resources below that may help:
Local councils have set up Community Response forums run by your local county/city council with details of how to get help from volunteers should you need anything #communityresponse or search on your local council’s website. #FingalCommunityresponse and firstname.lastname@example.org
The Irish Government website for general advice, employment or money/welfare difficulties https://www.gov.ie/en/campaigns/c36c85-covid-19-coronavirus/
Do you remember “Draw with Don”? Check out his art videos https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCo4dO9D4okn25M6mvfB02rQ/featured
PE with Joe Wicks is suitable for the family to exercise together and also 10 minute chair workouts for seniors @thebodycoach on Youtube or ExWell@Home programme
Libraries Ireland have free access to e-books audiobooks, magazines and newspapers https://www.librariesireland.ie/news/online-services-during-coronavirus
Learn to dance with Oti Mabuse from Strictly on Youtube
Even Julia Donaldson & Alex Scheffler are helping children understand
Remember that pandemics do come to an end. There will be changes, but amongst the panic, fear and considerable unknowns and when we are pulling so strongly on our families, friends, communities and our innate need for connection, this is a timely reminder of what we really value in our lives. Our health and meaningful connection to those around us.