Update 24 May - the Government updated guidance aimed at young people. You can read the latest guidance here:
Staying alert and safe – social distancing guidance for young people (opens a link on the GOV.UK website)
What is social distancing and why are we doing it?
It is really important at the moment not to be mixing outside of the people you live with. We must all keep a two metre distance from other people as much as possible. That means not meeting your friends at the park to play football or basketball, not going to your mate’s house party and even not going to see your nan at her house.
This is to slow down the spread of Coronavirus (or COVID-19).
See this video to understand more:
Young people are not invincible to Coronavirus, and as the Director General of the World Health Organisation said,
“Even if you don’t get sick, the choices you make about where you go could be the difference between life and death for someone else.”
That could be your Nan, your girlfriend’s brother, your best mate’s dad. So social distancing is unfortunately the new normal for now.
How do I deal with living like that?
Social distancing and self-isolation can be really hard to deal with. It’s normal to feel anxious, frustrated or bored, and if you’re worried about the effect it will have on your mental health, you are not alone.
You can’t control what happens in the future. You can’t control Coronavirus itself or the world economy or how your government manages things. You can’t magically control your feelings, eliminating all that perfectly natural fear and anxiety. But you can control what you do - here and now. And that matters.
Here are our tips for looking after your wellbeing during this time:
Some advice from the Emotional Health Service!
Keep on communicating - talk about how you are feeling
It’s really important in these times that you talk about how you are feeling to friends and family. We are all going through this together and sharing worries is very helpful. Spend quality time with the people you live with, think of it as a chance to enhance your relationships..
Make contact with your local youth worker
Youth clubs in Kingston and Richmond are closed at the moment but youth workers are still there to support young people and are organising lots of online activities and chat rooms. Contacts below or check out the Instagram pages for Whitton Youth Zone, Heatham House and the Powerstation:
Heatham House, Twickenham Email: email@example.com Call: 07872 336027
Barnes, Kew, Richmond, Ham Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call: 07903 359719
New Malden, Surbiton, Chessington Email: email@example.com Call: 07500 915085
Whitton, Hampton, Teddington Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Call: 07881 250490
Use positive social media
Using technology, in moderation, is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. Use video calls such as Facetime or Skype to hang out with people and see their faces. You could do school work together, play an online board game or have dinner at the same time as a family member living elsewhere.
Join in Whatsapp groups, take part in online gaming or other chat forums. At the same time be aware of how negative social media affects your emotional well being. Unfollow or mute accounts that makes you feel bad and always take breaks away from screens
Staying in control
Mindfulness is about being present in the now and dealing with the mind’s constant worries and anxieties. It’s about acknowledging your thoughts and feelings and silently and kindly acknowledging whatever is ‘showing up’ inside you: thoughts, feelings, emotions. Take the stance of a curious scientist, observing what’s going on in your inner world.
The aim is to remain aware of your thoughts and feelings.... and at the same time, come back into and connect with your body,through concentrating on your breathing, sounds or touch. Why? So you can gain as much control as possible over your physical actions, even though you can’t control your feelings. There are various apps out there with short exercises that will help you practice mindfulness. We have suggested some apps and other ways to help yourself here.
Stick to a routine
Each week try to create a loose schedule, when you will do school work and when you will do other activities such as exercise and socialising online. During the school week try and stick to the times you would normally to wake up, eat meals, study etc. Having a routine will give you a sense of order and normality.
Limit your newsfeed
We are being bombarded by worrying news through TV and social media. Give yourself slots in the day when you will catch up but then give yourself time away from it. Be aware of fake news and only accept information from official sources.
Getting away from screens and reading a book, or listening to your favourite tunes can help you escape for a bit. It might be difficult to get a new book, but you can access lots of books online, including free ebooks through your library service.
Try something new or pick up something you did when you were younger, like drawing or painting, making, or baking. You might surprise yourself at how good you are.
Your physical health affects your mental health
Going for a jog or doing a youtube workout releases endorphins and makes you feel better about yourself. Get outside at least once per day to get some fresh air and sunlight.
Try to eat healthily not snacking on lots of processed food but getting a balanced diet including fruit and vegetables. Look on youtube for new recipes.
Sleep - a great way of social distancing
Making time for yourself in getting ready for a good night’s sleep will help. Pushing your boundaries and watching TV or gaming later than usual will disrupt your sleep patterns, and cause you and your family extra stress. Try sticking with a regular bed time (better than daytime catnaps), plan a relaxing routine, and park some of your worries by noting them down before going to bed.
Surviving being stuck indoors
It’s best to walk away
Being inside all together can lead to tensions and annoyances rising. If things kick off it's alway best to walk away and get some space so everyone can calm down. That way differences can be overcome. If you do not have coronavirus symptoms you can always go outside for a walk. Making a rota can help situations where people are arguing over who gets to use the TV or Playstation. Putting in a bit of structure can make these disagreements go away.
If you need help - do something about it
It’s so important not to bottle up how you are feeling, don't struggle in silence. Talk to your friends or family. If you can't do that there are lots of organisations that can help you:
If you're under 19 you can confidentially call, email or chat online about any problem big or small freephone 24/7 helpline: 0800 1111 sign up for a childline account on the website to be able to message a counsellor anytime without using your email address or chat 1:1 with an online advisor
Free to young people living or educated in Kingston.
Talk to your local youth worker - details above.
If you're in distress and need support, you can ring Samaritans for free at any time of the day or night. Freephone: 116 123 (24 hours).
If you're under 25 you can talk to The Mix for free on the phone, by email or on their webchat. You can also use their phone counselling service, or get more information on support services you might need. freephone: 0808 808 4994 (1pm - 11pm daily)
...And some useful websites with other wellbeing & emotional health information
Young minds - includes a parents helpline too
Getting it on - health & wellbeing advice and services for 13-19 year olds in South West London