Frequently Asked Questions – the uncertainty of COVID-19
· Is it normal to feel different when things are uncertain?
Yes. Not knowing what is going to happen next week or tomorrow can cause us to feel stressed or worried. The way that people respond in these situations will vary quite a lot between each person.
· What is anxiety?
If we feel like we can’t cope with the stressful things that are presented to us then we might sometimes experience anxiety. Anxiety can impact the way we think and the way our body feels. Anxiety can also be made up of many other emotions and thoughts (see iceberg image below for example). Sometimes when people are anxious they may have the same thoughts repeating over and over in their mind. They may also have unhelpful thoughts that they feel that they can’t stop. Anxiety can make our heart beat faster, make us breath harder than normal, give us hot flushes, and make us visit the toilet more than usual.
· Is feeling anxious about these things normal?
Yes. This is a very normal response and sometimes feeling a little bit of anxiety can be a helpful thing, if we know how to respond to it.
Should I speak to my children about what is going on?
Yes. Try to reassure your child and be as honest as you can be, given their level of understanding and age. Children can sometimes believe they are responsible for things that are clearly beyond their control. Reassure children that it is the adult’s job to make sure things are OK and to keep them safe. Be aware of conversations you may have with other adults regarding your concerns or worries, particularly about family members who maybe ill or financial or work worries. Children often pick up or over hear these conversations and these worries become their own.
· Should I let my children speak to their friends about what is going on?
Yes. Friendships are a key resiliency factor for children and young people. Most children see their friends nearly every day of the week and so not being in contact with them for some time might be upsetting. Is it possible for children to talk to their friends on the phone?
· If my child is expected to complete remote learning tasks , what are the important things to remember?
Try to have a routine and a structure because this can make people feel secure. Also, don’t worry if the routine isn’t perfect. This is not a normal situation and if you find that planning and sticking to a routine is causing more stress or conflict, then it’s OK to be more ‘free-flow’. Perhaps let the children help plan the routine and be guided by the activities they want to do if there is friction with structure. Remember your child has practised accessing SEESAW within school, the activities set are matched to their ability – they do know what to do. The class team will be in regular contact with your child to feedback and support them. Play is another really important thing to remember. Play is fundamental to children’s wellbeing and learning – for all ages! It’s also a great way to reduce stress in adults.
· What can I do to respond differently to the feelings I may be experiencing, such as anxiety, during this crisis?
You can FACE COVID. Dr Russ Harries has created this helpful guide to help us find ways to change how we respond to these emotions, such as anxiety, during this time. The idea is to run through these steps as often as you can. You can also find a short video on FACE COVID here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvNCdpHUYM
F Focus on what you can control:
You can’t change virus or how the government responds but you can change your own behaviours let’s do that by following the ACE steps below.
A Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings:
Kindly and curiously acknowledge whatever is coming up inside you (i.e., thoughts, ideas, sensations, memories, urges). For example, “I am having thoughts about my family getting sick”, “I am having thoughts about not passing my exams”.
C Come back into your body: find your own way of connecting with your physical body. This could be through your breath or through movements like stretches or shrugs.
E Engage in what you are doing: re-focus your attention on the activity inhand. Notice 5 things that you can see or 5 things you can hear.
C Committed Action:
This means effective action which is guided by the things that are important to you. This includes doing something, which is still within the current government guidelines, that can improve the lives of myself, the people I live with, or the people in my community.
O Opening Up: this means making room for difficult feelings and being kind to yourself. We can’t stop feelings like fear, anxiety, or sadness from coming up but we can make room for them in our lives whilst acknowledging they are normal even though they hurt. Also consider what are some kind words you can say to yourself during this time.
What do you want to stand for in the face of this crisis? Unity? Fairness? Community? Compassion? Humour? Whatever it may be, look for ways to represent them throughout each day in any small way through your committed actions.
I Identify Resources:
Find what type of support and advice is available to you and this includes friends, neighbours, and government officials. Make sure you know the emergency helpline phone numbers and this includes numbers for psychological support.
D Distances & Disinfect:
Continue to follow official government advice about these and encourage others to do the same.