The Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has changed life for all of us – and it’s only normal that we feel a heightened a sense of worry and anxiety.
However, sometimes anxiety can be unhelpful, and may even begin to overwhelm us.
Here are some practical tips to help you keep your feelings of anxiety, and those of your students or own children, in check.
Everywhere your students turn they are hearing, seeing and absorbing a lot of information about Coronavirus COVID-19. Making time to talk with them, in a language and at a level they understand, can help quell their anxiety and better cope with what is going on.
Plan your excursions and incursions
COVID-19 means we have to re-think the logistics of school excursions and incursions. Plan ahead so that your students feel calm, and your school excursions and incursions run smoothly – and according to health guidelines.
Live in the moment
Try to focus on the here and now, rather than dwelling on the past or the future. By encouraging your students to ‘take each day at a time’ you will help them to live in the moment.
Share your own feelings
While some students might not be worried about COVID-19, others will be feeling frightened, upset or worried. Asking them how they feel, and listening to their responses, can help – as can sharing your own feelings and letting them know what you’re doing to cope.
Even for adults, the constant negative media reports we are all exposed to on a daily (even hourly) basis can be overwhelming. So just imagine what it is like for our students and children. Encouraging students to limit their exposure to media, news and social media about COVID-19 can help alleviate feelings of anxiety.
A healthy mind equates to a healthy body. Encourage your students to get enough sleep and exercise – and to make healthy food choices. This will help protect their mental health and immune system.
Take a reality check
Help your students give their thought patterns a ‘reality check’. For example, if they get stuck in a ‘thinking loop,’ guide them to think about something else, or reassure them.
Encouraging your students to stay connected with their family, friends and community (albeit at a distance, or even on a virtual basis) will help them feel more supported, less isolated, and less lonely.
Normalise and validate
Let your anxious students know that what they are feeling is normal and natural – and that many others feel the same way.
Take a deep breath
When things get a little overwhelming for you or your students, stop and take a couple of deep, slow breaths. It can help calm and centre you.
“It’s okay not to have all the answers. If a child asks a question you can’t answer, or needs help with something you don’t know how to solve, be honest. It’s a great opportunity to do some research and learn something new together” – Amanda, Kids Helpline Counsellor.
If you need help, reach out. A free 24/7 Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service is available on 1800 512 348 or at https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/. You can also seek immediate advice and support through Lifeline (13 11 14) and Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800).
This article was written using information sourced from the Australian Government Department of Health (health.gov.au), the Black Dog Institute (blackdoginstitute.org.au), Head to Health (headtohealth.gov.au), Raising Children Network (raisingchildren.net.au) and Kids Helpline (kidshelpline.com.au)