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Supporting Ourselves and Others with Kindness during Coronavirus Isolation

Foster care at Five Rivers Child Care

by Hannah Gilding, Graduate Research Assistant, Five Rivers Assessment and Therapy

Throughout the lock down our Assessment and Therapy team has been researching and developing resources to use to support the mental health of our young people and their carers. We have been circulating these to our workers and carers and we would like to share them more widely on our blog with anyone in the current situation who is having to educate children, sometimes alongside working from home. 

Kindness and Compassion to Build Resilience 

An act of kindness can prevent loneliness, counteract feelings of sadness, and lead to positive bonds and relationships. All of these outcomes could in turn support someone who is struggling and prevent someone’s mental health deteriorating. As well as teaching children about literacy or mathematics, it is important that we can teach children how to have healthy relationships with others and encourage empathy and compassion.

We have gathered these resources in the hope that they can keep children busy, whilst encouraging them to think about kindness and develop this important skill. Some resources have been newly created, and some have been taken or modified from Kindness.org. Most of the resources are aimed at a primary age group, but many could be tailored for younger children with an adult supporting them.

We are providing children and young people with the following kindness activities

  • Colouring Sheets
  • Kindness Bingo
  • Kindness Quest
  • Kindness Science Experiment 
  • Kindness Word Search

Do Something Kind

Feelings of anxiety can lead to our thoughts becoming very negative and focused upon our own feelings. Taking yourself away from this thinking and doing something kind to help someone else, can have incredibly positive effects on our own wellbeing, providing happiness for both yourself and the recipient of your kindness.

This could be:

  • Writing a card to an older relative to let them know you are thinking of them
  • Calling someone who you know is isolated
  • Offering to buy food for someone
  • Sending a letter of thanks to someone working to keep us safe
  • Putting a thank you poster in your window for the postman
  • Make a cup of tea for someone you live with

Doing things for other people is extremely rewarding and can counteract feelings of stress.

You can access videos about kindness, from the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation. https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/kindness-videos

(Do watch videos before sharing them with the children you care for to ensure they are suitable for their age group, as some of the language might be too complex for younger children.) 

Support for adults and key workers 

We are experiencing some of the strictest restrictions that have ever been placed upon our way of life. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us may be trying to cope with different anxieties. 

You may be a Key Worker managing the anxiety of having to interact with people and travel outside of the house. Or you may be someone working from home, feeling confined within the walls of your own home. Feelings of anxiety may be continuous and underlying or strong waves that come and go. If you are feeling stressed and concerned, this is completely understandable.

We want to frequently remind people of their own resilience and strategies which help them manage their emotions. You may have already read some helpful tips or the other content that has been sent out, but with the current news coverage, any helpful material you read or listen to can suddenly be undone by another bad news story.

It is important to remember that whilst there are many things outside of our control, there are things you can do to take control of your uncertainty and manage your feelings. Here are some of our top tips:

Find Something Else to Talk About

We are all continuously hearing about ‘the Coronavirus’, whether it be through media, friends and family or over-hearing other people’s conversations in the supermarket or back garden! For many of us, staying in the anxiety of constantly discussing the virus is not helpful, and we need topics of distraction.

For example, you may have heard about ‘the 36 questions that lead to love’. Although it is unlikely that these questions will make you fall in love, there is bound to be a topic here that will bring up some interesting conversations where you can find out something new about a person. A link to these questions can be found below:

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/style/36-questions-that-lead-to-love.html

Playing games with other people is another great way to stimulate conversation. It could be a board game that you can play with people you are with or an online game or quiz that you can play with your friends in isolation. If you look online, and through social media, people are setting up many different themed quizzes for people to join in with, some of which are raising money to help the NHS. You could also make a quiz for your friends or family, which will be a great distractor for you and also good fun for others. Playing games can increase our opportunities for laughter and fun and be a great distraction.

Keep Active

With the change to our routines and the restrictions now in place, staying active is particularly difficult. We are no longer doing small bits of activity that we once were, such as walking to the shops or into the office. Take advantage of our daily allowed exercise opportunity and go outside for a walk or run. Even on days when you might not feel like going out or the weather is bad, it is highly recommended that you go for a quick walk around the block (albeit maintaining social distancing) to give your legs a stretch.

For those of us working from home, it is time to start thinking about how to increase your activity around the house. Even if this simply involves getting up from the desk once an hour to walk around the house or do some chores. Sitting still for too long could lead to back and shoulder pain so it is important to give your body regular breaks.

There are now more free online workout videos becoming available. If you have children with you, join in with Joe Wick’s 9 am P.E. lesson or a dance class with Strictly Come Dancing’s Oti on YouTube. Whether it be dancing, yoga, Pilates, cardio workouts, gardening or just being more aware of walking around the house, now is the time to keep on top of your activity.

Read Good News Stories

The likelihood is that if you are accessing any news coverage at the moment, it will be difficult to not hear about the Coronavirus. It may be tricky to avoid news coverage altogether, but it is important to find a balance. Perhaps consider setting up a group with colleagues, friends or family where you only share good news stories that you hear or read about.

For example:

Follow @PositiveNewsUK on Twitter 

Or visit these websites

https://www.positive.news/

https://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/topics/cx2pk70323et/uplifting-stories

Practice Mindfulness

You have likely heard of ‘mindfulness’. It is very much considered to be the current buzzword for positivity. Some people may have dismissed mindfulness as not for them, however there are many forms that mindfulness can take. Although, originally, mindfulness was typically an activity of sitting still and focusing on feelings in your body, it has now been modified to be easily incorporated into our lives. For some people, the traditional forms of mindfulness are preferred, but for others, mindfulness can be accessed through any activity that allows your mind to concentrate and focus on your surroundings. For example, mindful colouring, mindful walking and mindful eating. To find out more about each activity, please visit: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/mindfulness-exercises-tips/

Be Accepting

Accepting other people’s reactions and understanding the reasons behind them could help to lower your own feelings of stress. Dr Louise Mansell, a Clinical Psychologist, has written an article about how people’s reactions to the Coronavirus are replicating grief. Some people are in denial and are ignoring government advice, some are in shock leading to panic buying, others are feeling angry and are shaming people or taking to social media to rant and some people are experiencing very low mood, using humour as a light relief.

It is important that we don’t take the actions of others too personally and try to understand the reasons behind them. If someone is making you feel more anxious, take a moment to step back and think about where this reaction has come from. Evaluating other’s reactions and the information you are getting from them can help to prevent you getting swept into their anxiety.

It is also critically important to accept yourself. Try not to judge yourself for feeling anxious or be self-critical of your thoughts; anxiety is there because it can keep us safe through fight-or-flight responses. In many ways the media content causes anxiety to ensure that people follow government advice and stay safe. However, we need to make sure that this level of stress doesn’t become uncontainable. If you are following government advice (https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus) then any lasting anxiety will not be of benefit to you. You cannot control the situation, and what air particles you breathe in. You can be in control of how you feel about it and respond to your anxiety, ensuring that your body and immune system is in the best possible position to fight off any infection.

Although we must follow guidelines, for those of us feeling most anxious, it is important to keep the current situation in a balanced perspective. Not every case of the Coronavirus leads to a worst-case scenario. In fact, the vast majority of us would only experience mild to moderate symptoms. We need to be aware in order to do our best to protect ourselves and others and show respect to those that are suffering. However, one of the best things that you can do is keep your body and mind fit and healthy, ready for any challenge that may come your way. This won’t last forever, but in the meantime we all need to work together to keep ourselves and others safe and healthy.

If you feel you need more support to manage your anxiety, please reach out. 

Simply Health 24/7 GP and Counselling resources: https://www.simplyhealth.co.uk/

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/ 

Infoline on 0300 123 3393 (9am-5pm Monday to Friday)

Samaritans: Telephone – 116 123 (Free 24/7), Email: [email protected]

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