COVID-19 Information and Resources

It's normal to not feel normal during these times of stress and uncertainty. The coronavirus pandemic has significant implications for our mental wellbeing and it's very important that we take care of ourselves, especially under the strain of altered routines in lockdown.

Seeking psychological support is considered essential medical care. At this time, PSYCS is able to offer telehealth video-conferencing or masked in-person sessions. Please click here to download our COVID safety plan.

General CBT Resources

 

This website provides you with symtoms of common conditions and how they are treated using CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).

Some resources on managing anxiety and worry can be found here:

Resources about managing health anxiety specifically can be found here:

The British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapy (BABCP) has a useful podcast on dealing with anxiety about coronavirus, which can be found here.

Resources for Children and Teens Coping with COVID-19 and Anxiety

COVID-19 anxiety can affect young people as well. Be mindful of your child's level of development as you choose how to talk to them about the pandemic. We encourage you not to let them watch media coverage, especially without some discussion of what they understand about these media encounters. Remember that children may not understand things the way you do.

The following sources of information provide advice on how to talk to children about COVID-19:

General mental health resources for children and teens can be found at the following sources:

  • CBT book list for children: here

  • CBT book list for teens: here

 

Books:

Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

Engage in helpful behaviours:

Anxiety and worry are natural and adaptive reactions when we face danger. Worry is intended to help mobilise us to take appropriate action to face danger. Unhelpful worry remains in our minds and can drain us. Take action to protect yourself and engage in helpful behaviours to help ease distress.

  • Take action to protect yourself

Use your worry to be proactive and take the necessary steps to protect yourself from COVID-19 based on  guidelines suggested by experts. Follow the guidelines of your government in physical distancing and staying at home. 

  • Engage in general self-care

Set regular times to go to bed and wake up, exercise at home and eat a balanced diet at regular mealtimes. Avoid naps or shifts in your sleep cycle, avoid excessive alcohol or caffeine and avoid impulsive distractions like online shopping sprees.

  • Engage in pleasant events

Pleasant events are helpful to improve mood, so it's important that you do things you enjoy. Brainstorm activities that you can do at home and engage in them every day. For example, you may want to listen to music, watch your favourite films, exercise at home, cook a nice meal, read a book, play board games, or arrange social events with friends and family via internet programs such as Skype, Zoom, Whatsapp or over the phone.

  • Limit worry and rumination

While it is normal to worry and be focusing more than usual on health at this time, you can take some steps to try and manage your degree of worry. One idea is to limit the amount of time you worry by setting aside a limited minute of "worry time" at the same time each day. Set a limit on the amount of information you read online, maybe 30 minutes or less per day. Think about the best time to engage in this worry. Before bed, for example, is not a good time to read upsetting news updates as it may interfere with sleep. Accurate information on COVID-19 can be found on the NSW Health page and on the World Health Organisation's website.

  • Engage in problem solving

Here are some evidence-based steps that are often helpful in solving problems:

  1. Identify the problem

  2. Generate potential solutions

  3. Plan the chosen solution 

  4. Carry out the solution

  5. Evaulate the result

This may be a useful strategy, given that we are spending time at home. For example, this technique might be able to help you solve the problem of how to structure your time at home by thinking of projects and activities you want to work on and enjoy while you are unable to go out. Or, if you are having difficulty organising yourself while working from home or you find yourself getting distracted, here are some potential problem-solving ideas in action:

The problem - Procrastination. 

The potential solution - Designating a certain stretch of time to work before taking a break.

The plan - Setting a timer for 30 minutes of work, then taking a 10 minute break to stand up and walk around.

The evaluation - How did you feel? Did you work during the 30 minutes? Do you need to modify your plan? If so, do it and try again!

 

  • Relaxation exercises

Research shows that diaphragmatic breathing exercises (slow abdominal breathing) and progressive muscle relaxation exercises (alternating tension and relaxation to identify and combat signs of phsical tension) are useful in reducing general physical tension and promoting relaxation. There are several apps and self-help books available online that can help you learn these exercises. 

  • Meditation and mindfulness

These techniques may be useful in reducing worry and improving general wellbeing. There are many resources for practising both mindfulness and meditation available on the internet, such as this e-book. Try downloading some mindfulness tracks and listening to them before bed to help you unwind. 

Staying Social in Lockdown

 
 
 

The City of Sydney Library is hosting karate classes, mindfulness talks, crafting classes and a whole bunch of other workshops through zoom. These online events can be found on their website.

Meetup.com is still a great option in lockdown, just limit your search to ‘online’ activities.

Classbento.com.au has some (paid) livestreamed craft classes and will deliver the craft kit to you.

Isolationtrivia.com livestreams trivia nights for you to play along at home.

Sydney Dance Company is offering Zoom dance classes.

You can also meet people and play games online through platforms such as:

  • Discord

  • Twitch

  • Roll20.net (for tabletop game groups)

During lockdown, it’s important to make an effort to reach out to others more than usual. Make time every day to talk to a friend or family member and talk about how you are both going.

Get a group of people together and do an activity, like:

  • Play a game, Among Us is a great free game for groups

  • Watch a movie (www.teleparty.com helps synchronise video playback for Netflix)

 

Parenting in a Lockdown

A gentle reminder:

These are not normal times. It is important to go easy on yourself and set realistic expectations of yourself as a parent. Now is not the time to be striving for perfection; doing what you can is enough.

In a pandemic, there are many things out of our control. We cannot change the restrictions or the threat of COVID. We can however control some things, like our household routines and our personal health while staying at home. Understand the difference between what you can and can’t control and focus on what you can.

Keeping spirits up when locking down

 

1. Set a consistent routine

As the lockdown has us working and learning from home, it is important for you and your children to develop regular schedules. Try to set a time to wake up, a time for online learning, a time for recreation and exercise and social time for the family.

2. Celebrate everything

Every birthday and holiday, however minor, can have a big to-do in lockdown. Having events to look forward to brings brightness to the monotony of being stuck at home.

3. Get lots of exercise

Exercise is proven to be beneficial for mood. Getting outdoors to kick a ball or run around helps not just to keep kids occupied but to keep them healthy as well.

4. Write mail

Writing physical letters is a good activity to keep young children occupied and connected to friends and family. The excitement and anticipation of receiving a letter back also helps to keep kids looking forward to the future.

5. Stay connected

If you have a crafting or otherwise solo activity planned for your child, consider video-calling a friend or family member to do the activity together. This helps keep kids social and engaged.

Professor Mark Dadds’ 10 tips for surviving lockdown with children

 

1.         If you have space, divide the house into different zones for children’s play, adult-only working zones,                rough and tumble activities as opposed to quiet ones etc.

2.         Brainstorm and schedule activities for the morning, afternoon and evening of each day one week in                  advance.

3.         Plan for rewards and discipline you will use to manage child behaviour. When children play nicely, work              independently and speak nicely, reward them for making the house a better place.

4.         Involve your children in the above three decisions.

5.         Schedule in dedicated daily time for each individual child (try 30 minutes).

6.         Schedule in parent time to nourish yourself and adult relationships (again, try 30 minutes).

7.         Try to not get involved in refereeing children’s fights. Instead, treat the kids as a team and make                      stopping conflict their shared goal.

8.         Use the “Premack principle”, which says people will engage in a less favoured task in order to access a              more favoured task (i.e. homework for TV time).

9.         Consider an online parenting course or seeking help from a children’s mental health practitioner if you              are dealing with particularly obstructive behaviour.

10.       Try to rediscover the love of having a family and enjoy the extra time together.

Learning in lockdown: pointers and reminders

 

Learning doesn’t always mean sitting down with a book and pencil

Children are always learning, no matter what they’re doing. Remember that there is huge value in play. Kids at school don’t spend all day doing workbooks and they don’t have to at home, either. Now is a time to be flexible about what learning looks like. Click here to download a list of ideas.

Six hours of school is not equivalent to six hours of home learning

A school day is filled with things like lunch, recess, classwork, playing with friends. As said above, we need to be flexible with our idea of what learning looks like and embrace things like sport and playing as valid forms of learning at home.

 

Not everything prepared by the school will be finished

As the lockdown has disrupted children’s lives and routines it is reasonable to expect that not all work set by school will be completed or of a standard we could expect before the lockdown. Just like for ourselves, we have to have realistic expectations for what kids can achieve in an incredibly disrupted period.

Support independence by structuring learning around interests

While keeping children engaged in learning can be difficult, it’s easier to do if the learning has to do with things your child likes. Follow your child’s natural inclinations and take their interests as learning opportunities.

 

Get help from your community

You don’t have to do it all alone. Work with friends, classmates and other parents to keep your children connected and engaged. This helps your children meet their social needs, as well.

 

Get back to the basics

Now is a good time to focus on the elemental skills of English and Maths. Keep your kids reading and practising basic arithmetic to keep up the development of these essentials while at home.