Taking care of your mental health during the COVID-19 outbreak is vital. Many people, including Carey staff, students and parents are currently experiencing worry and anxiety about the coronavirus, as well as managing the challenges of social isolation and navigating the new experience of online learning.
There is a strong connection between the mind and the body. Our mind is very powerful. Chronic stress can have serious implications for our health, because when we are stressed, our body releases cortisol into the blood stream, and higher levels of cortisol over time lead to compromised immunity. It is clear that maintaining good mental health is just as important as washing our hands in helping us to fight this virus.
With all of this in mind, we have put together a list of strategies and ideas to help you manage and prevent COVID-19 anxiety.
1. Establish a daily routine or timetable. When everything around you is constantly changing, continuing to maintain some consistency, structure and routine in your day-to-day activities will help you with adapting to the change in a supported way. Break your day up into blocks like at school and include a variety of different activities; for example, organisational tasks, social interactions, fun activities, exercise, mindfulness.
2. Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Ensure you get a variety of different nutrients into your diet. Eating well gives you more energy, helps you concentrate and can improve you general mood: better meals = better feels!
3. Exercise for at least 30 minutes each day. Exercise has many benefits for your overall health and mental health. Namely, it releases endorphins (feel good chemicals) into the blood stream, which helps to improve your mood and reduce stress.
4. Get at least eight hours of sleep. Sleep is really important both for your mental health, general wellbeing and overall mood.
5. Take a break from or set a limit on your consumption of mainstream media, news coverage of COVID-19 and social media. To stay up to date with information, stick to trustworthy sources, such as messages from Government bodies and health authorities. Check out our Useful Resources and contacts page on our COVID-19 Information Hub for some links to reputable information.
6. Set time aside each day for gratitude journaling and/or discussion of some good things that happened in your day. For example, did you see someone doing something kind in the supermarket? Did you do something nice for someone else today? At times like these, it can be easy to see the world through a negative lens, but remember to look for the helpers and for the people spreading kindness and generosity into our community.
7. Give yourself permission to feel your feelings. Normalise and accept the way you feel – most other human beings are feeling this way at the moment, too. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel. Honour it, express it, talk about it – but don’t let it become all-consuming.
8. Practise relaxation or mindfulness daily. Practising relaxation and mindfulness will certainly help to lower your stress levels. Remember, relaxation and mindfulness exercises are to be practised daily over time to reduce your overall level of stress, which in turn will result in fewer acute episodes of stress. It is recommended that you practise these exercises daily even when you are not feeling stressed. If you only practise when you are stressed or anxious, you will not get the full benefit. Find a suitable time in your day to schedule in your relaxation or mindfulness practice and commit to it as a daily part of your routine. Setting an alarm or reminder on your phone may be helpful for this. You may find it initially difficult to stick to this routine, but after a while it turns into a habit. As you start to see the benefits of your daily practice, you are likely to want to continue with this. Smiling Mind is a great free app to use to begin your mindfulness practice.
For more information about mental health support during the COVID-19 crisis, take a look at the Support page of our COVID-19 Information Hub.
Carey students are able to seek mental health support through our team of school psychologists. Our school psychologists will be continuing to provide counselling supports to students through online platforms of over the phone. More information about that process can be found here. Please get in contact with your classroom teacher or mentor to arrange a meeting.
Please feel free to contact Allan Griffin, Acting Head of Student Development, if you have any general questions or concerns.
Acting Head of Student Development