Europeans have been under great mental pressure for several months due to the coronavirus (koronavirus, in Finnish). An increasing threat that has become more present in our lives as time passed and the epidemic originated in China reached our cities and towns.
To the immense amount of news received everyday from all over the world, most of them worrying, we must add numerous and changing recommendations from the authorities, who are trying to adapt and respond to the situation, minimizing the problems that this crisis causes us in our daily life.
To reduce the distress and anxiety that this situation can cause in the population, the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare (THL, in its Finnish acronym), has published a series of recommendations that may help to maintain mental balance. Among them, some to try to calm fear in children.
THL tips to reduce anxiety
According to THL, it is completely normal that the spread of the Covid-19 is causing concern. In particular, among those who are ill, isolated or caring of other people who are exposed to the virus. All of these people may now be prone to anxiety. "Watching coronavirus news in abundance can also frighten and distress you," THL says.
The Institute for Health and Welfare has released the following list of tips based on the guidelines issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- If you need to stay at home, maintain a healthy lifestyle and good daily routines.
- Eat healthy.
- Sleep enough.
- Exercise at home or outdoors.
- It is normal to be sad, confused, scared or angry under these exceptional circumstances.
- If you feel very bad, talk to a healthcare professional. Low threshold chat assistance is available from the Finnish Mental Health Association Crisis Phone and the Sekasin Chat. Good self-care advice is also available at the Mental Health Center.
- Talk about your feelings to the people you trust.
- Reduce the amount of time you spend on media, including social media, if you feel this is worrying you.
- Avoid smoking, alcohol and drugs as stress relievers.
- Find information from trusted sources such as THL, hospital districts, and WHO websites.
- Utilize the skills that have helped you deal with various difficulties in the past.
Support and listen to your kids
Children are also following the coronavirus crisis. According to THL, the role of adults should be to support and protect them if they feel fear and concern.
Children react to stress in many different ways. They may be anxious, be closer to their parents, get angry or be too kind, or, for example, wet their beds at night.
Parents must stay calm so they can support children. Be warm and understanding about their reactions. Listen to their concerns and give them a lot of intimacy. Try to organize more time with them. Talk to them in a calm and friendly tone.
Even in a special situation, give children as much opportunity as possible to play normally.
Try to keep your children as close as possible to parents and the rest of the family. If you have to be separated, for example because you are in the hospital, keep in touch with them by phone.
Maintain your usual daily routines. Even if things change a lot, like closing a daycare or school, try to find good routines and a balance between school work, safe play, and relaxation.
Give your children clear and specific instructions on how to reduce the risk of infection.