The following recommendations were taken from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Defense (go figure!). All of it seems good advice in the present circumstances.
Psychological advice related to COVID-19
Isolation can take its toll. A suspicion of an infection, the fear of it, or the illness itself can also put a strain on the psyche. In order to lighten these loads, we recommend:
Establish security: Regular information from reliable sources (e.g., the national broadcaster, websites of public health authorities) helps to prevent thoughts from taking on a life of their own. In this way, security can be established in a situation where fears and worries are completely normal and understandable.
Accept feelings: Rapidly changing emotions are normal in crisis situations: From helplessness and fear to anger, annoyance, or feelings of senselessness and emptiness, many emotions can come and go rapidly. In such an emotionally volatile state, you should wait to make any major decisions.
Set goals: This gives you back a sense of control. Goals should be realistic and appropriate to the circumstances. They might include: Writing a diary, learning new skills, tidying up, or getting work done that would otherwise always be left undone.
Talk about it: Sharing worries with friends, family, colleagues, and comrades helps in times of crisis.
Stay in touch: It is important to maintain regular social contact through phone, chat, and video calls. However, the coronavirus topic should not determine the whole conversation. It is important to pay attention to the other person in order to recognize when the topic becomes too much or too stressful.
Seek distraction: Always consciously distract yourself from the predominant coronavirus topic. Have conversations on other topics too, like reading and pursuing hobbies.
Allow humor: “Humor is allowed!” It is a strong remedy for hopelessness. Smiles and laughter often bring relief.
Stay active: Do things you never have time for and consciously engage in positive activities such as needlework, handicrafts, crafts, cooking something good, and watching a good movie.
Physical activity: It is also important not to forget about physical balance. Being physically active helps to reduce stress and strain.
Maintain an everyday rhythm: Try to stay in your usual routine even in this exceptional situation. Get up at certain times, complete your tasks first, and then have free time. You should also eat and go to bed at normal times. This is especially important for children.
Activate resources: Find things that encourage you. E.g., think up sentences that calm you and your family and give you security, such as: “We will be able to cope with the situation together!” Do not lose sight of your own strengths. In times of crisis, attention is automatically directed to fears and what doesn’t work. In order to achieve a psychological balance, it is necessary to consciously focus on the good, the successful, and the strengths.
Allay kids’ fears:
- Be guided by kids’ questions, and then give honest and child-oriented answers.
- Restrict or monitor media consumption around coronavirus. Do not forbid it, but dose it. Explain, be open to kids’ questions, and stick to it.
- Provide security through structured, predictable everyday life.
- Enable social contacts via phone and internet.
- Possibly give more attention when fears take over.
- Stay calm yourself. Fear is contagious.
- Enable play and distraction.
- Play together and be creative.