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Coronavirus: ways to cope

The idea of time away from school is often seen as a holiday, or bonus – but right now, things are a bit more complex than that. Staying at home is coming with a side order of study and homework – added to which there’s little scope for having face-to-face fun with friends, since time outside of the home is currently restricted. When life changes suddenly, it’s normal and understandable to feel uneasy or unsettled, but it’s important to try to find ways to keep a sense of routine and even positivity through the changes. Here are a few suggestions that might help…

Set a routine
Finding and maintaining a structure can be useful when usual routines are disrupted – and the best thing is, you now have the opportunity to determine what happens when. Making your own timetable is a great way of regaining control of your time and of keeping on top of any personal challenges. For instance, your school day might usually start at 9am, but you could choose instead to practise some yoga or tune into a popular workout routine. Next up you might opt to swot up on algebra for an hour or dive into some research for a history project. You could also switch your food-tech lesson to a ‘make-dinner-for-the-family’ challenge. But don’t forget to schedule in downtime for tea breaks, lunch, phone calls to friends or grandparents, gaming sessions, reading or listening to music. You don’t want it to be all study and no play!

Keep talking
They might cause grief with guardians a lot of the time, but right now phones are a great way to keep in touch, especially as the usual methods are off-limits. Talking to friends over the phone or on FaceTime* can help to maintain that sense of connection you get when chatting with mates at lunchtime or while you’re on the bus or train going to school. And communication is more important than ever when things are topsy-turvy.

Share your screen time
Games that allow friends to play together remotely can help to restore a sense of normality and community. Some social-media platforms also have shared challenges and quizzes.

Allow your emotions
Whatever you’re feeling at this time – whether that’s disappointment about missing out on sporting or social events, fear about your own health or that of loved ones, anxiety about when things might return to normal or stress about how missed lessons might affect your learning – be assured it’s perfectly normal and valid. It’s important not to bottle up your emotions, though, so make sure to share any worries with the trusted friends and adults in your life. The chances are some of them will be feeling the same way. And don’t forget you can do this on the phone or Skype or FaceTime – communication isn’t limited to the people in your home.

Get creative and active
As well as talking to people, it can be useful to find other outlets for your emotions. You might think about expressing yourself creatively, through art or story writing, or you could expend your energy on a run or a tough exercise session. Creativity and activity are two of the best medicines out there.

Know that all is not lost
If you’ve been studying for exams or working towards a specific goal, this current state of affairs might feel horribly unfair – as if all of your hard work has been for nothing. It hasn’t. All the knowledge you’ve accumulated, the skills you’ve learned, the resilience and discipline you’ve developed – they’re a part of you now, and they’ll be there throughout these changes and beyond. Be proud of what you’ve achieved – you are amazing.

Get the facts
Everyone seems to have different opinions on coronavirus and it’s difficult to tell fact from fiction. For the most reliable and up-to-date information, visit gov.uk/coronavirus or nhs.uk/coronavirus.

Ask for help
If you feel anxious about the situation now or how it might affect your health or your future, it’s important to talk about it, but for many this isn’t always straightforward in a face-to-face situation. If you’d find it easier to get advice online, visit youngminds.org.uk or childline.org.uk. You can also text YoungMinds Crisis Messenger on 85258 or call Childline on 0800 1111.

* Always ask a guardian’s permission before using apps or games and be aware that many have minimum age limits. It’s also good to discuss with them the best times of day to go online, especially as you might be sharing computer equipment and broadband data if they’re now working at home, and to decide how much phone and screen time is best for everyone.

Words: Sarah Rodrigues
Illustration: Nadia Snopek via Shutterstock