news 19 Feb 2021

Coping with Unexpected Change During COVID-19

Our students have shown incredible resilience and adaptability throughout this pandemic despite the frequent and often sudden changes to their environment. Our Head of Student Wellbeing, Bridgitte Roberts, explains the importance of making time to focus on wellbeing as a strategy to cope with unexpected change. 

When change occurs unexpectedly, such as the lockdowns and restrictions, it is important to allow ourselves time to adjust, reconfigure and adapt to the new conditions. Building positive wellbeing is achieved by taking small actions which collectively contribute to a calmer, healthier and more optimistic viewpoint.      

Learn Acceptance. Acknowledge the things we can control as well as the things we can’t control, in order to accept the situation and manage our expectations of ourselves. This will help to maintain a sense of agency and stability and reduce anxiety about the unknown.

  • It is normal to feel frustrated or uncertain. Acknowledge these feelings and then work on taking actions to change them.
  • List the things you are worried about and then work through ways to address these. For example: Worry: ‘I’ll be behind others when sport returns.’, Action: ‘Everyone is in the same boat. I’ll start working on skills at home’. Worry: ‘I don’t want to get behind in schoolwork.’, Action: ‘I’ll finish off one task at a time and work through my list.’ 

Highlight the positives. When we are exposed to change, it is easy to see the negatives. Challenge this viewpoint and find the positives.

  • Surround yourself with positive people and discussions. This helps to boost your own ability to look on the bright side.
  • Practise gratitude. What are the things you are grateful for? Focus on the small, simple things such as spending more time with family, taking a walk during the day, calling a friend, sunshine, healthy eating, etc.
  • Laugh. Find the things that make you laugh: your favourite comedy, funny videos and reminiscing on funny memories.
  • Engage in positive self-talk. Think about the great things about YOU, list them down, refer to them, ask others what they like about you, share with others what you like about them.
  • Shift your mindset. Why not try thinking... “I’m not sure what today will bring, but I’m up for the adventure.” 

Strengthen your self-control. Develop a ‘training plan' to build more self-control and train your mind like you would train your body. 

  • Using the insights you gained from previous lockdowns, identify what worked and what didn’t work and then create a new routine so your days are productive and predictable. Then focus on each day at a time.  
  • Set small, achievable tasks. For example, if you spend a lot of time on your phone, initially commit to a small task of turning off your phone during breakfast, lunch and/or dinner. Day by day, slowly increase the amount of time you spend offline. Start small (minute> hour> day> week> month) = keep improving.

Challenge your mindset. Ask yourself, ‘are these helpful thoughts?’ When we experience change, we often default to negative thinking because we feel safe and secure with the familiar.

  • Give yourself a limit of negative thinking. Set an allocated time and then move on from these thoughts. Don’t dwell on your worries and what has changed. Move on rather than carry them with you.
  • Shift yourself physically away from negative thinking by distracting yourself with an enjoyable task. Engage in the moment.

Be present in the right NOW! We have all heard the saying, ‘Live in the here and now’, let’s try it! We all spend time in our lives worrying about what might be in the future, but if we spend too much time worrying about what hasn’t happened yet, we miss what is in front of us… right NOW!

  • Mindfulness and meditation can help us train our brains to focus on the here and now.  Start with a few minutes a day and then gradually increase this overtime. Train the brain!
  • Alternatives to meditation might be going for a run, walk, yoga, gym workout, listening to music, enjoying a hot drink, cooking or playing a game - each to their own, what works for you? The task is about blocking out the ‘noise’ and distracting thoughts, and focusing on what is in front of you right now. 

For further advice or support, the best point of contact is your child’s mentor. The Student Wellbeing section on the website also includes further advice, support, guidance and helpful contacts (such as a direct link to counselling staff).


Further helpful resources:

How to deal with uncertainty during coronavirus

How to Talk to Your Child about COVID-19

How to help your child deal with any anxiety around coronavirus (COVID-19)

Australian Government - Official Website for Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus Help Line: 1800 020 080

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