Supporting each other, even from afar, is essential to surviving the latest crisis.
North Canterbury is used to crises, with earthquakes, fire, snowstorms, wind storms and drought in recent years, but the difference with the Covid-19 outbreak is the need to find other ways to connect.
“It is absolutely normal to feel tense and anxious right now,” North Canterbury Trust manager Deirdre Ryan says.
“But there are things we can all do that will help our resilience and wellbeing and that of those around us.”
The trust’s advice:
Be kind to yourself and others: We are all doing our best to navigate these exceptional times. A little kindness will go a long way.
Stay connected: If you can’t be face to face with your loved ones right now, find ways of staying connected, such as Skype, Zoom or social media apps.
Stick to routines if you can: Routines around meal times, bedtime and exercise are a great way to give some structure and certainty to each day, but be prepared to have things change, and accept different ways of doing things.
If you can, do more of the things that give your life meaning and value. It might be gardening, connecting with nature, playing with your kids or getting lost in a good book.
Choose where you focus your attention: Tune into what is still good in your world.
“Psychologists call this `benefit finding’ and it is a key resilience skill,” says Deidre.
“Focus on what matters and what you can control. Concentrate your attention on things that you can actually influence.
“Worrying about things you can’t change will only upset you.”
Deidre proposes that people take a digital detox: She says it is important to stay connected with loved ones and keep up with breaking news, but set some time aside each day that is screen-free. If the news is overwhelming, turn it off.
Deirdre also has tips for families with children at home.
“It is important that tamariki feel okay talking about how they are doing. Children can react to stress differently than adults.”
“Reassure them they are safe, encourage them to talk about how they feel and tell them they can ask questions and answer these in plain language appropriate to their age. Be honest, but avoid details which may distress or cause anxiety.
“Tell them that feeling upset or afraid is normal, that it is good to talk about it and that they will feel better soon.
“Be understanding. They may have problems sleeping, throw tantrums or wet the bed happens. With support and care, it will pass.
“Give your children extra love and attention. Remember that children look to their parents to feel safe and to know how to respond.
“Reassure them, share that you are upset too but that you know you will all be fine together. Try to keep to normal routines.”
Community Wellbeing North Canterbury Trust provides free social and community services to local families and communities. Its website is wellbeingnc.org.nz.
Over the coming weeks, the trust will be posting regular tips and resources on its Facebook page.
Those struggling to cope can call or text 1737 to talk with a trained counsellor for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.