With the sudden onset of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), many of us have found ourselves in situations we were not anticipating and for which we were not prepared. This has undoubtedly led to an increase in stress for many of those within our community. It is important we recognize this stress and find appropriate ways to deal with it. “News about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was everywhere as winter break began. As I scrolled through Weibo, I came across a variety of conflicting information. In addition, my travel plans that had been scheduled well in advance were cancelled. All of this made me feel anxious and even annoyed at times. The break was then prolonged, but that did not excite me for long because the intensified isolation measures meant I had nowhere else I could go. I felt like I had hit rock bottom.
Fortunately, I was aware of these changes and told myself that if there was nothing I could do about what was happening around me, I would do what I could to control my own response and approach the situation rationally.
I came up with a plan that beginning on 26th January, I would give myself time to exercise, read, study and relax.
Two days later, I had already felt quite a change as my body and mind calmed down. I learned a lot from this process. Two days later, I had already felt quite a change as my body and mind calmed down. I learned a lot from this process.”
-From a pupil
These feelings are similar to what many of us have experienced. We feel comfortable and secure in familiar and predictable circumstances, but our anxiety increases when faced with the unknown and with uncertainty. When our surroundings are chaotic, we might no longer feel secure and must build our own sense of security, which derives in part from having a daily routine. The easiest way to create this is by making a 24-hour chart of your life or some other simple schedule to follow.
What strategies do we have to support children of varying ages?
For Nursery to Year 3 pupils, please click HERE.
For Year 4 and above pupils and adults, below are some suggestions we hope can shed some light on what can help during this time.
- Understand that having some psychological concerns are normal at such a time and there is no need to blame yourself.It is, in fact, a self-protection mechanism to feel nervous or anxious. When it happens, you can say to yourself:
“It is normal to feel this way.”
“Others feel the same under the same circumstances.”
“It is understandable for me to feel this way.”
“I am allowed to have such feelings.”
- Understand that psychological status can affect biological reaction.When in crisis, the human body produces hormones that lead us to make one of three choices – fight, flight or freeze – and as a result, we might feel chest discomfort, palpitations, dizziness or insomnia. Therefore, having such symptoms does not necessarily mean that you are infected, and there is no need to panic over this.
- Maintain a rational and scientific attitude.What we can do during this time is wash our hands frequently and wear masks, follow our daily routine, keep a balanced diet, and exercise regularly to improve our immunity. It is important to avoid feeling like you do not have to follow any precautions, but also not be consumed by excessive pessimism.
- Avoid reading excessive information about the epidemic.
It helps to spend less time on social media, only obtain information released by official channels, and keep a distance from anyone or any info-source that makes you anxious. Seek mutually supportive relationships.
- “Comfort” your nervous system.
Research shows that meditation, mindfulness, hypnotic exercises and positive association can restructure neural connections and regulate the functions of the autonomic and endocrine systems. Teenagers can benefit from these activities as well, improving their concentration through exercise. Proper exercise helps release dopamine, so it is nice to dance to music, do some yoga or simple stretching. It is not time-consuming and can be time for family fun.
- It helps to record your thoughts in your favourite way.
It can be through diary entries, vlogs, photos or voice records. Use your own method to express yourself when feeling anxious, helpless or worried.
- A daily routine helps to increase sense of security.
It is especially important when the school’s reopening is delayed, and pupils are self-learning at home. The more disrupted the outside world is, the more we need to pivot and focus on what is happening inside us.
If these suggestions do not ease your anxiety, we advise you to consider seeking professional help. There are a few resources available to help members of the Wellington communities during this time:
- Mental health hotline in Hangzhou (0571-87025885) available only in Chinese during the time of the epidemic from 13:00-17:00.
- Pupils and Parents (English and Chinese) Hotline established by Zhejiang University with over 60 registered members of the Chinese Psychological Society. Please scan the QR code in the picture.
- Our school counselling service (English and Chinese) for pupils and parents. You can book an appointment with our school counsellor on Wednesdays from 8:30am to 4:30pm. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to book a time.
Wherever we might be at the moment, we are stronger together as a community.