Coping with the impact of Coronavirus | Advice for young people

Coping with the impact of Coronavirus

TV, radio and social media are all full of stories about Coronavirus and Covid-19. Following advice from the government, schools and colleges are closed and we’re not sure when they are to re-open. 

The novelty of time at home has more than likely worn-off by now. In fact, there’s a lot of ‘new normal’ talk, but let’s remind ourselves, these are unusual times. It is important to look after both our mental and physical health, as always, however with very different challenges right now.

We, at Jigsaw have temporarily closed our face-to-face to services, but our clinicians will be busy working here on Jigsaw Online.

If you would like some extra support at this time, you can Ask Jigsaw or sign up for one of our group chats

Physical health

Inform yourself about what you can do to help prevent the spread of viruses and the symptoms of Coronavirus. When looking for information about Covid-19 and Coronavirus, go directly to trusted sources, such as the HSE. Don’t rely on what someone’s cousin who’s a doctor in Japan said!

Current challenging situations

Change of routine

With schools, colleges and many workplaces closed, our routines have changed. However, when things are uncertain, trying to maintain some sort of routine can help to keep us grounded. Get up at the same time and get dressed as usual. Set yourself tasks to complete. Make sure you include breaks and leisure activities.

Schools and colleges may be sending out work to do or setting up virtual lectures. But, you might also need to think outside of the box when it comes to filling in ‘work’ time. Is there a project you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t had the time? Are there things  you can do to help others in your locality?

Our usual leisure activities may not be possible. Think about what activities you enjoy, or enjoyed in the past that you could restart. Perhaps now is the time to take up some new hobbies.

It is important to maintain communication, discuss our experiences and share how we are feeling with others

Coping with isolation

Feeling isolated can significantly impact our mood. We might not be seeing the people we usually see as social distancing is encouraged. Actively maintaining communication, and sharing how we feel with others is crucial at this time.

Technology can be a great way to connect, with individuals or on group platforms. Use Facetime, Skype or WhatsApp, to check in regularly with family and friends. Email, or even old school letters are nice way to keep in touch with relatives who might be self-isolating. Online chat platforms can be a space to share experiences and ideas.

Remember that this period of reduced movement will not last forever. 

Do take breaks as well from technology. All this increased intense screen time throughout the day and night, without our normal structures will play havoc on our sleep.

How young people are coping with isolation

We asked some of our volunteers how they are coping with the current situation, now this is going on longer than any of us could have foreseen.

 

Coping with family or housemates

With some parents now working from home or if you live in a shared house, things will feel pretty crowded. Even if we generally get on with those we live with, spending lots of time in each other’s company can lead to tension and conflict.

Be aware of the needs of others in the household. Discuss schedules so that, you can all complete work that requires quiet at the same time. Agree who is going to use which parts of the house for which activities. If you need some time alone, flag this and let people know. Compromise will be needed from all of us. Being able to communicate clearly and calmly will be key.

Social media and anxiety 

Without a doubt, the level of uncertainty regarding the impact of Coronavirus, and the unusual measures being taken across the country can be anxiety provoking. Adding to this is the amount of mixed or confused stories being shared via social media. While most people are sharing information with the best of intentions, it can be overwhelming, and at times, misleading.

In a time where ‘fake news’ is rife, check the original source of information before resharing it as fact. Even posts that look official can be doctored. Go directly to official government and health department websites or news feeds for updates and information.

Although you may be looking for reassurance, don’t get drawn in to obsessively scrolling for Coronavirus information. The stream of Covid-19 news is endless.  Ongoing consumption of this can actually add to the feelings of anxiety. If looking through news feeds is anxiety provoking, only look at your phone at designated or limited times to check for updates from a trusted source.

Although some level of concern might be justified, it can be easy to start imagining worst case scenarios

Worry about symptoms

With lots of talk about symptoms and illness related to Coronavirus it can be natural to focus on ourselves. Worry about contracting Covid-19 and our sensitivity to changes in our bodies can be heightened. If we start looking for signs of illness, we are likely to notice unfamiliar sensations that are not a cause for concern but add to our worry.

There are lots of physical sensations related to anxiety, such as tight chest, feeling hot, shortness of breath. These could be confused as signs of a physical illness. The experience of anxiety will pass with time, so try distracting yourself or doing an enjoyable activity. Notice whether the feelings reduce.

Concern about family members

It is natural to worry about people close to us who might be at higher risk of becoming unwell. Although some level of concern might be justified, it’s easy to start imagining worst case scenarios. This can cause us to become panicked unnecessarily. Try to focus on the facts and what you know rather than letting your imagination get the better of you. Concentrate on the present rather than predicting the future and what might happen. Distracting yourself from worrying thoughts may also be helpful.

Focus on the things you can control, such as keeping in touch with loved ones, and following the HSE advice about preventing the spread of infection.

Self-compassion

This is a time to be compassionate with ourselves and those around us. Talk as kindly and reassuringly to yourself as you do to others. Notice what you are telling yourself about what is going on. Be as balanced as possible. Notice if the way you are thinking is leading you to feeling panicky and try to challenge these thoughts. Distract yourself when needed and do activities that make you feel good.

This might be a great time to start a journal. Write down how you are feeling and thinking about the situation.

Talk to those around you about how you feel. Share your concerns with someone you trust.

This is an unusual situation for everyone with no right or wrong way to feel. Paying attention to our mental health and physical safety, and supporting each other, we can get through this challenging time. We may even learn some helpful self-care skills for the future.

If you would like some extra support at this time, you can Ask Jigsaw or sign up for one of our group chats

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