23 March 2020
There is a lot of information available in the media about the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes washing hands, not touching your face, avoiding hugs etc. This is all very sensible and needed. However, it’s really important that we think about our emotional wellbeing too. At the moment, there is uncertainty for everyone. The important thing is that we try hard to keep ourselves mental healthy for our own wellbeing, that of our families, colleagues and our community here on St Helena.
We have put together the following advice for everyone here on-Island:
- Feel connected to the people around you. Make sure that you don’t worry alone. Chat with your neighbour, partner or parent
- Try to keep going as usual. If you find that your mind keeps drifting back to thoughts about COVID-19 and worries about it, try to do something. Try to distract yourself by working through a to-do list for tasks around the house, read a book, play cards, a board game or do a puzzle. Watch a DVD or a favorite television programme. If you have a hobby such as woodwork or painting then spend time doing this. Going for a walk or taking some exercise is a great stress buster
- Limit your time on social media. If you want information about COVID-19 and St Helena’s preparedness then make sure you look at the Government website
- Make sure that you are informed but not spending your time learning every single detail about the Virus. There are lots of opinions on the internet and not all of them are helpful or even accurate
- Being flexible is key. At the moment, guidelines for everyone are changing as we learn more about the Virus and how we can manage it. Scientists are working hard to give advice but their understanding changes day-to-day too. Try to be patient as we interpret their advice and use it to keep us safe. If you are uncertain or don’t understand something, ask.
What you can do if you feel overwhelmed:
- If you do feel overwhelmed, then focus on your breathing. Notice the uncertainty as it comes to mind. Try not to react. Pause and breathe. Breathe again
- Name the worry. Allow yourself to feel it and notice how it can reduce as you breathe through it. Tell yourself this is just the worry talking. It is only a thought or feeling. Not a fact. It’s understandable but not helpful now
- Try to let go of the thought or feeling. It will pass. You don’t have to respond to it. You might imagine the worry floating away, shrivelling up or disappearing. If it lingers, give yourself time. Be kind to yourself
- Start to look around while you breathe slowly. What can you see where you are. What colours? What shapes? Touch something. Taste the air. Keep breathing
- If this is happening often to you and impacting you please ask for help.
People who have a tendency to worry a lot in general, are most likely to be most vulnerable to feeling very anxious or sad right now. It’s important that these people look for help or if you see someone struggling in the community that you ask them if support from the Mental Health Team could help them, or even you can contact us to discuss. Our phone number is 22593.
Mental Health Team, St Helena
23 March 2020