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FACE COVID - Practical steps to deal with a crisis

26th March 2020

When we face a crisis of any sort, fear and anxiety is inevitable. They are normal, natural responses.

Dr. Russ Harris, author of the Happiness Trap has developed a set of practical steps for responding effectively to the Coronavirus crisis, using the principles of acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT).

F = Focus on what’s in your control
A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings
C = Come back into your body
E = Engage in what you’re doing
C = Committed action
O = Opening up
V = Values
I = Identify resources
D = Disinfect & distance

Dr. Harris has created an easy to follow animated video for you to follow. The steps are summarised below, alternatively, you can download the complete E-book at the bottom of the page.

F = Focus on what's in your control

Dr. Harris says "You can’t control what happens in the future, you can’t control corona virus itself. You can’t magically control your thoughts and feelings. You can control what you do, here and now."

A = Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings

Dr. Harris says "silently and kindly acknowledge whatever is showing up inside you (thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories, sensations) with curiosity. Notice what is going on in your inner world."

Say to yourself “I am noticing feelings of anxiety” or “I am having thoughts about getting sick” or “I am having feelings of loneliness.”

C = Come back into your body

Find your own way of connecting with your physical body. According to Dr. Harris, this could be trying to try press your feet hard into the floor or slowly pressing your fingertips together, slowly stretching your arms or neck or shrugging your shoulders.

E = Engage in what you’re doing

Get a sense of where you are here and now and refocus your attention on the activity at hand. Notice 5 things you can see, 5 things you can hear, notice what you can touch and taste and smell. Notice what you are doing and give your full attention to that activity.

C = Committed Action

According to Dr. Harris, this means effective action guided by your core values. "Action you take because it’s important to you, even if it brings up difficult thoughts and feelings."

This includes following official guidelines on what to do during this crisis, but in addition, ask yourself regularly “What can I do right now no matter how small it may be?" Something that improves life for yourself or others you live with or people in your community. Whatever the answer is, do it and engage in it fully.

O = Opening Up

'Opening Up' means making room for difficult feelings and being kind to yourself.

"As this crisis unfolds we will all feel fear and anxiety, anger, sadness, guilt and loneliness. We can’t stop these painful feelings from arising but we can open up and make room for them. Acknowledge they are normal, allow them to be there even though they hurt and treat ourselves kindly. Consider what kind words you can say to yourself and kind things you can do for yourself to help you cope with this suffering."

V= Values

Dr. Harris says "Committed actions should be guided by your core values, what do you want to stand for in the face of this crisis? What sort of person do you want to be as you go through this? How do you want to be as you go through this? How do you want to treat yourself and others?"

"Your values might include love, respect, humor, patience, courage, honesty, caring, openness, kindness, compassion or numerous others. Look for ways to sprinkle your values into your day, and let them guide and motivate your actions."

I = Identify Resources

Identify resources for help, assistance, support and advice. This includes friends, family, neighbours, health professional and emergency services.

Macedon Ranges Health offers psychological and counseling services in Gisborne. These services are still available face-to-face, however, if you are uncomfortable with this - telehealth (counseling over the phone) will be available shortly.

Alternatively, you can call the Beyond Blue Support Service. This free and confidential service is available every day to all Australians online from 3pm to midnight AEST or 24 hours a day by phone on 1300 22 4636. The Beyond Blue Online Forums have a dedicated ‘Coping with the Coronavirus outbreak’ section for anyone seeking a safe and anonymous place to discuss their mental health and wellbeing.

MindSpot, a free service for Australian adults who are experiencing difficulties with anxiety, stress, depression and low mood, is offering “Wellbeing Plus” online course for people 60+ years. The course aims to help older adults learn to manage stress, anxiety, worry, low mood and depression.

D = Disinfect and distance

Finally Dr. Harris says "Disinfect regularly and practice physical distancing for the greater good of your community."

Now that you know the steps of FACE COBID, run through them as often as you can for the benefit of yourself, your loved ones and all the people in your community.

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