In terms of basic advice it would be helpful for students keeping routines as much as possible, putting things away when they have finished work so they have a good separation between work and rest spaces, making sure they take regular breaks and acknowledging their achievements. It is important to acknowledge that the situation is really tough, and that it is ok to struggle and find it difficult – and it is also ok to ask for help.
In terms of emotional challenges, it is important to think about the practice of self care. This means staying active, getting outside each day, finding ways to be creative, finding ways to connect with others and stay engaged.
Human beings are not designed to live under sustained stress, and the continued pressure many students are under will be impacting the way their brains work. Understanding this may be helpful for some students – the brain reacts in one of three ways to a stressor. When the first two – fight/flight are not possible, then often the brain resorts to ‘freeze/collapse’ instead. We end up with the release of hormones in our bodies (cortisol) that affect the way we feel. We can help our brains to stop making cortisol in a variety of ways:
1. Breathing exercises (maybe incorporating some mindfulness and breathing at the beginning and end of a day could help. Some apps like Calm and Headspace are offering their services for free at the moment).
2. Movement – this can be anything, walking, dancing, yoga – just getting the body moving.
3. Creativity – giving our brains space to do something creative, anything works! Whatever you enjoy (e.g. drawing, painting, photography, dance).
4. Connection – trying to make meaningful connections with others is vital, maybe text a friend or organize a zoom call, or play a game with family.
5. Laughter – a real belly laugh tells the brain that we are safe and can be great to help manage stress. Maybe watch your favorite comedy or find other fun and safe ways to make yourself laugh. (My children have started a ‘prank war’ at home!)
6. Hugs – not easy at the moment, but physical contact with others can change the way the brain works, so if you have someone at home who you can hug then do this!
Mental Health and Wellbeing resources
A free app.
An anonymous online counselling/wellbeing service. It is open 365 days a year, currently from 12-10pm weekdays and 6-10 weekends.
A 24 hour crisis text service (text P2B text to 85258).
If you are in crisis.
Offers young people information about looking after your mental and emotional wellbeing.
This video provides guidance to parents and carers about how they can support themselves and their children during any disruption caused by the coronavirus.
A selection of self-care strategies that have been developed by young people to help manage their own wellbeing. During a time when access to regular appointments may be disrupted or anxiety might be heightened, it might be helpful to try one or some of these strategies.
This page includes information on what concerns a child might currently have, for example about the coronavirus, and some things to try to address these worries.
A toolkbox of activities such as breathing exercises, coping videos, yoga videos and games that can help children feel calm in a period of disruption.