Michael Ryan – Counsellor/Psychotherapist
While we cannot control the spread of this virus in the wider community – all each of us can do is to control how we choose to react to the situation. You only need only control your own hygiene practices and leave the general control of the situation to the medical experts and politicians who are paid to do so.
We all react to the stimulus around us – we observe others verbal and non-verbal behaviours – if the environment remains calm, it is easier for everyone to remain calm.
If you are anxious – try to externalise your worries – write them down, talk to a friend or to a family member. You can always ring a helpline like the Samaritans on 116-123 or email email@example.com. Creative and artistic activities are great for reducing anxiety. Try to avoid listening to or reading endless reports about the situation. Switch off from media reports as often as you can and do something nice that involves relaxing and calming down your system. There are also lots of support groups for the Autism community on social media – for example – the ASIAM Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/AsIAmIreland/
Practicing gratitude, meditations and mindfulness are also healthy ways to rebalance anxiety – there are loads of good YouTube clips for all of these. Here’s a little explanation about mindfulness to help you to understand it – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w6T02g5hnT4 Exercise is good too for reducing anxiety and stress – either in your home or out in nature.
Routine is good for maintaining calmness and stabilising moods – so try and stick to the usual routines in your activities in as far as you are allowed to do so by the authorities.
Demonstrate good hand-washing/coughing/sneezing etiquette. Cough/Sneeze into a tissue and bin it immediately or if no tissues are available cough/sneeze into the crook of your elbow – not onto your hand.
Wash hands thoroughly and regularly using soap and warm water and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds each time. If you cannot access soap/water use alcohol based hand sanitiser to clean your hands. Try to avoid touching your face, mouth, nose or eyes. But don’t panic if you do as everyone does this out of habit from time to time.
The virus will have little impact on a young person if they catch it – but young people can be carriers and so it’s best to try and keep family units together and avoid mixing with others if we can avoid it. Older people are especially vulnerable so unfortunately we have to limit our interactions with elderly relatives in order to protect them.
If you do feel ill – stay at home and inform someone close to you who can help you to determine what you can do. All the Guidelines are here on https://www2.hse.ie/coronavirus/
Only listen to experts about the best course of action – there will be people trying to scare-monger. So with each piece of information on social media – you need to ensure that it has evidence – and be sure that you get your information from a trusted source.
Ireland is taking the best advice and putting in the most advanced measures to contain the spread of the virus so you are in one of the best places in the world right now – and remember, no-one is alone in this situation and we will all get through it as a united community.