As the COVID-19 virus crisis is impacting our whole community, we are all facing an uncertain future – there are many unknowns and we are in uncharted waters. How do we look after our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us as we navigate this together? While we may not be able to shake each other’s hand, we can lend ourselves and each other a helping hand of support.

Routine

For most of us the routine of life is changing, with big disruptions like how we work, how we interact with each other and, now, how we engage in our learning.

Establishing new routines is fundamental to our wellbeing at times of crisis. It is important to think about how we can establish a new routine now that our students will be in online classes. Patterns around sleep and meal times will support a feeling of normality. Exercise is a significant element in wellbeing but many sporting events and training for our students have been cancelled. Therefore we need to consider how these can be replaced with alternative exercise programs.  Having regular times offline is essential for our students’ wellbeing.

Practise being calm

Every individual has their own unique set of strengths and vulnerabilities when it comes to managing stress and worry, and also what helps us to stay calm.  Australians will often use humour to diffuse stressful situations and are very practised at laughing at themselves. There is a strong body of evidence that mindfulness practices greatly assist individuals in remaining calm. A student recently told me that when he is worried, concentrating on fixing something like his bike helps his emotions to settle. Making good decisions around how often we expose ourselves to the ongoing media coverage of this crisis is important in our ability to remain calm.  We are all responsible for learning what helps us and then to practise using our “tools of calm”. Our ability to solve problems is greater if we are calm. Calmness can be contagious.

Be a problem-solver

Any crisis can feel overwhelming. Skills in chunking problems down to smaller pieces can help us to work out what our role is today – what part of the problem is my responsibility at this time. For our students it could be to be patient today and wait for further information, or concentrate on their normal tasks today – like school work. Meanwhile, our school leadership is problem-solving by thinking ahead and making plans for different eventualities. Using our tools of calm and working together to solve problems will help us feel we have traction and feel less overwhelmed.

Safe people, safe places 

We all need people and places we can go to for support. It is tempting to have a “scattergun” approach to expressing our stress and frustrations but this can be unhelpful in a crisis as emotional distress can also be contagious. Finding safe places and people to talk to is key for when the whole community is feeling stressed, and these could be personal or one of many professional organisations offering support and resources. Please see the links below.

Hope

How can we cultivate hope for ourselves and our children in the midst of this crisis? Gratitude for the things we have that will sustain us is key. Our relationships, our beautiful environment in Jindabyne and the Snowy Monaro region, our warm beds. Notice these things, make a list – it will help us to feel stronger and therefore more hopeful in an uncertain time.

There are a number of resources and articles available to assist families and students at this time. Some of these include: 

https://www.lifeline.org.au/get-help/topics/mental-health-and-wellbeing-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/talking-about-men/202003/improving-student-mental-health-during-the-covid-19-crisis

https://www.lifeinmindaustralia.com.au/support-for-those-impacted-by-adverse-events/mental-health-support-for-covid-19

https://lighthouse.mq.edu.au/article/march/how-to-talk-to-your-children-about-coronavirus-top-10-questions-answered

https://parents.au.reachout.com/common-concerns/everyday-issues/things-to-try-stress/how-to-talk-to-your-teenager-about-coronavirus?utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=social-parents&utm_medium=organic_static&utm_content=covid-talk&fbclid=IwAR3LAiCj9y4XQpuoe5zvhDgW7TX9TGgUv0kfgxLCiW6P9_prX2orzTcAkd4

https://au.reachout.com/collections/coping-during-coronavirus