Just because we can’t be physically close to our family and friends, doesn’t mean we can’t stay connected.
During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, we are being asked to limit our contact with other people. This will prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and help save lives. Although this is hard for all of us, it’s the right thing to do.
We also know that feeling socially isolated can impact our health and mental wellbeing. It can make us feel sad, anxious, lonely and depressed. We want to make sure that during this time, you have ways to stay connected to your family, friends and community, even if you can’t see them in person.
The Huon Valley community is well known for looking out for each other in tough times and we ask that you keep in mind your neighbours who may not have friends or family around at the moment. If you notice someone who seems like they might be a bit lonely, make an effort to check in. Pop a note in their letterbox, send them a message, or just give a friendly wave and a ‘How are you?’ as you walk by (while keeping a safe distance).
We often think of older people becoming isolated in their homes at times like these, but it’s not just the elderly who might become lonely. Young people who live alone, single parents whose kids are now suddenly at home all the time, shift workers and people who travel to work away from their families – there are a lot of people in our communities who could do with a friend right now, and connecting can make both of you feel good.
- Tips and advice on staying healthy and connected at home: Stay Healthy Stay Connected Facebook
- Local community groups and services providing emergency relief: healthconnecttas.org.au/food-relief
- Stay in the know about with what is happening on our community by following Huon Valley Council on Facebook and visiting our COVID-19 Information page
- Up-to-date information about coronavirus: coronavirus.tas.gov.au
- Red Cross Australia has got practical tips to maintaining wellbeing and manage isolation
We are lucky to live in a digitally connected world that allows us to connect with others wherever they are, using your phone or computer.
Most smartphones and computers can make and receive video calls, so that you can see and hear the person you’re talking to. If you haven’t tried video calling before, the BBC has create a step-by-step guide about the different ways to make video calls on different phones, while Tech Crunch has published an article on different video calling options for different groups of people.
Many places that offer exercise and cultural classes are now operating online. You could take an exercise class, stretch out with some yoga, feel the beat in a dance class or learn how to paint through an online art studio. Classes like these are a great way to spend time doing things that make you feel good while connecting with other people who share your interests.
Virtual choirs and bands
Lots of people have taken the pandemic as an opportunity to move their choirs and music groups online via video chat. See if there is an online group you can join or start your own – making music is shown to make you feel less stressed, especially if you can do it with others!
Not everyone wants to or can use technologies like smartphones and computers to connect with others. But there are still ways you can connect without using any digital technology at all.
Write letters and postcards
When was the last time you picked up a pen and paper and wrote a message to someone? Write to someone close to you, write to someone you haven’t talked to in a while, or pop a postcard in your neighbour’s letterbox. Receiving mail is a rare treat these days, and you never know, you might make a new pen pal!
Participate in a bear hunt
One of the cutest stories to come out of the pandemic has to be the suburb-wide bear hunts where neighbours have displayed their teddies on fences, rooves and in windows so children (and the young at heart) can play ‘spot the bear’ from a distance. It doesn’t have to be a bear hunt, either. You could make any common object the prize of your socially distant scavenger hunt.
Even Government House Tasmania has been getting in on the fun!
Good old-fashioned conversation
Whether it’s with someone in your household over the kitchen table, or a friend on the phone, nothing beats a good chat. There are all manner of fancy ways to connect, as we have discovered, but sometimes a simple conversation feels best.
Talking to children and young people about COVID-19
Many parents and carers may be wondering how to talk with their child or children about COVID-19 and what information to share. Emergency Minds has a helpful guide designed to help you to prepare for these conversations.
Parenting website Raising Children is also sharing a lot of resources and information about COVID-19 and tips to help you and your family cope.
Parenting for Lifelong Health provides open-access online parenting resources during COVID-19.
Dr Georgie Fleming recommends five “pandemic parenting” strategies – including how to best use special play, praise, rewards, consequences and self-care.
Learning at home
Learning at home for any period of time may bring joy and challenges in equal measure. The Tasmanian Government Department of Education’s Learning at Home site has plenty of resources and ideas to support families and students with learning at home.
Online resources for families
Story Time Online: Thanks to Maribyrnong Libraries, a new Story Time Online will be uploaded on YouTube at 11am, every Monday to Friday.
Baby Rhyme Time @ Home: You can now watch a series of stories and songs for babies aged 0-2 years every Tuesday and Thursday at 2pm on YouTube.
Libraries Tasmania has online resources available 24/7, including eBooks, eAudiobooks, eMagazines, eNewspapers, on-demand streaming, children’s activities, and much more.
My Smart Garden: You might like to use the time at home as an opportunity to get out into the garden. My Smart Garden is a free program that will help you grow food, shelter your home from the sun and wind, create homes for local wildlife, use water wisely and recycle wastes.
George Town Council has launched its Kids Activity Portal. It has a wide variety of games and activities to choose from that will keep them entertained for many hours.
MWEW ‘Families’ webpage provides free information to share with families including ideas for outdoor active play at home and in the backyard.
As a young person, you might be starting to feel bored, unmotivated or lonely while staying at home. We’ve provided some answers to common questions that people aged 12–24 years may have about staying engaged and motivated in this unusual time.
How can I have fun?
With more time at home, you can start a hobby or project that you have been thinking about for a while. It may be an artwork, such as a painting or a drawing. There are many different types of inspiration that you can find online: Inktober is a popular art challenge among the many that can help you be productive. Another good challenge is to learn how to sing or play your favourite song, or even learn to write your own songs and music.
Now may be the perfect time to catch up on all those books that you have been wanting to read. Goodreads is a place where you can create a list of books you want to read and once you have read them, you can write a review. It is also a good source of inspiration for something to read, with a range of genres listed for you to discover. You may also have a list of favourite movies and TV series that you want to catch up on. You can include friends and family in a movie night, scheduling in a time to watch something in your own space and chat about it during or afterwards.
You may also have a range of other hobbies and projects that you want to try, like gardening, sewing, model making, cooking/baking and playing board games. Try incorporating your new hobby or project into your daily routine and you’ll soon feel the rewards.
How can I stay connected to friends?
Being connected to our family and friends is really important for everyone. While at home, make it a priority to connect in with someone outside of your home each day. This can be done by calling, facetiming, or social media.
Think about how you would have caught up or hung out with that person and think about how you can do the same using technology. Schedule a coffee catch up, chat while eating lunch, or organise to watch an episode of a series and then call to talk about it afterwards.
Set challenges to your friends to stay in contact. Send each other videos, messages or pictures updating them on what you are doing, asking how they are or laughing at a good meme or a TikTok. If data is something that is limited, have a chat with your telco provider as many have a range of support offers right now.
Being physically apart makes catching up harder, which is why being creative and using technology to stay connected is important. For family who are not used to using technology, you can write letters and post them gifts, photos and homemade items to stay connected and let them know you are thinking of them.
What do I need to know? Where should I go for help?
While at home it is vital to be proactive in taking care of your physical and mental health. It is a good time to set a goal for your health and wellbeing, using this SMART Goal method as a guide and motivator.
Staying physically healthy can be hard with limited access to external resources. Making sure to give time to physical activity through bodyweight exercise, being active, practicing yoga, or playing sport. The Tasmanian Department of Health has plenty of good information on managing your health.
Your mental health is about your thoughts, feelings, motivation and how much you are achieving what you want to achieve. There are several places dedicated to helping young people, including headspace, Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute. Using their resources, such as educational information, self-care tools and online support, can be very helpful for looking after your mental health.
How do I stay focused and motivated?
There will be changes to how school is taught and the way that you will learn. This is an opportunity for you to stay focused and achieve more than you may have before. Your school and teachers will be there to provide you lessons, support and guidance in learning what you need to. The Tasmania Department of Education will have news, information and resources to help you along the way.
Creating SMART Goals to help you keep on track of your study load and to achieve the goals you want is important. Having a strong support network to listen, support and celebrate your study achievements is also important for success, which is why it is smart to spend time looking after your relationships with friends and family.
Having a dedicated learning space that is outside of your bedroom is another way to stay focused and achieve your goals. Have a supply of learning resources on hand: pens, paper, planners, mind maps, white board and computer.
By combining a range of strategies and getting yourself prepared, you can start the next term off at a head start and see it through to the end.
How can I improve my employability?
One thing that the social isolation restrictions have demonstrated to us is that when the world goes back to the way it was, it will not be the same. Changes will happen in all aspects of how we do things, which will lead to changes in jobs that are available and new jobs being created.
You can use this time to get yourself ready for those changes so that you can start or continue on your career journey. There are a range of helpful online tools you can use to sharpen your resume, cover letter and interview skills.
Now is also the perfect time to upskill and do some online training – luckily there is some online courses that are completely free! FutureLearn offers free courses that are an introduction to further study. If you are looking for something more in-depth, then Open Universities offers a range of online study options. Always check with your parents and family if you are looking at online training and classes.
How can I help others out?
There are many ways that you can give back and support others during this time. You could assist any elderly family or neighbours with yard work, like mowing the lawn, weeding the gardens, chopping firewood or walk their dog/s for them. You can do this while maintaining the social distancing guidelines – it just takes a little planning.
You can also give back and help others while keeping yourself occupied. Kogo is a charity where people create knitted items which are then given to those in need to stay warm over winter. Trauma Teddies made by Red Cross volunteers are given to children as a cuddle buddy.
You can also check in by phone with your church, community centre or opportunity shop to see if they need anything specific that you, your family, friends or neighbourhood can help with.
There is so much information and change at the moment that it can be hard to keep a track of what is current and relevant. Reliable information about COVID-19 for older Australians can be found on the Department of Health website at health.gov.au.
In Tasmania, the most up-to-date information can be found at coronavirus.tas.gov.au.
As we all do our bit to stay home and save lives, it is important to stay connected with others, either online or over the phone.
There are many amazing resources available online to keep you challenged and connected.
Helping out others online
National Library of Australia: A site where you can join the community that is organising and improving correct OCRed text for newspaper entries and other information resources.
Zooniverse: Zooniverse gives people of all ages and backgrounds the chance to participate in real research with over 50 active online citizen science projects. Work with 1.6 million registered users around the world to contribute to research projects led by hundreds of researchers.
Looking after your own mental health
Home isolation periods and/or the spread of COVID-19 can be stressful and may leave you feeling concerned. There are a range of support services available, including talking to a counsellor or other mental health professional.
Go to coronavirus.tas.gov.au for advice on looking after your mental health during COVID-19.
In the Huon Valley we are lucky to have a local Social Worker, Ruth, who is offering phone and video appointments. Give Ruth a call on 0491 201 769 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of someone, or if you yourself are struggling with a deterioration in your mental health, impacts from job loss due to COVID – 19 or any other difficulties at this time please either contact RAW on the numbers provided or follow the link to make an online referral. RAW is here to listen and to ‘talk to a mate’.
- Mindfulness Exercises
- Grow – Mental Health Awareness – Grow has developed Growing Resilience, a no-cost online program to help you manage your mental health during this time of crisis. The COVID-19 event can have a profound impact on the mental wellbeing of Australians, many of whom would not have experienced mental ill health symptoms ordinarily. Grow has developed a new short term, two week online program to help the struggling members of our community connect to a network of peers at no cost.
- Pandemic Care Resources – A useful list of mindfulness and compassion practices talks and guided meditations to give you support during this time
- Ted Talks – Ted is doing some amazing daily talks to help people build new pathways to deal with the new normal. You can choose for yourself or here are some that may perhaps be of particular interest at this point in time.
- On meaningful human connections
- On maintaining your mental health
- The gift and power of emotional courage
Looking after your physical health
- Active Seniors Health Centre
- Healthy Tasmania – Facebook Page – Healthy Tas does 10 minute lunchtime workouts. More suitable for a higher level of fitness
- Fitness in the Park – Fitness in the Park is a free fitness program usually run in a variety of Clarence City Council’s outdoor spaces throughout the year.
Groups, classes and podcasts
- Join Council’s monthly Cuppa Conversations – see upcoming sessions on our Events page
- University of Tasmania are offering short online courses called The Wellbeing Toolkit
- Exercise links…. especially post chocolate eggs:
- Multiple workouts for different levels
- Seniors Online Victoria has games to keep your mind agile
- Curiosity Rover takes you on journey across the surface of Mars
e-book readers and audiobooks
Ordering in an e-book reader, such as a Kindle, can give you more than enough reading material to keep you occupied. Alternatively, download an e-book reading app and discover some free public domain e-books, many of which can be found at Project Gutenberg.
LibriVox is another excellent resource for free public domain audio versions of books which are out of copyright, such as classic novels, some of which are available in multiple languages. The site’s ambitious aim is to make all books that are in the public domain freely available audio book format. The books are read by volunteers and listeners can volunteer to read chapters for the site. If you wanted to, you can also offer to become a reader.
More free audio books can be found at Loyal Books.
As you know, the library is currently physically closed. However, members can download eBooks and audio books onto their computer/device for free. If you need large print books, you can change the setting on your device, so you can access any eBook easier.
If you are not a member, you can join the library online and start reading eBooks/audio books straight way. Once the library opens again, you can come in to collect your library card.
If you prefer to talk to a real person, please call 6165 5560 and someone will help to guide you through the process.
Online experiences are being offered by museums around the world.
- Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) is providing tours online, including on Facebook.
- Google Arts and Culture has partnered with more than 2,500 museums and galleries around the world to offer virtual tours of their spaces. Some of the options include New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum.
- The Louvre (Paris)
- The British Museum
- National Portrait Gallery – learn the stories behind each portrait.
Many orchestras are now providing music online via virtual performances.
- Camden Voices – True Colors – Enjoy Camden Voices singing this lovely song by Cyndi Lauper. It is so lovely to see musicians still being able to sing ‘together’ from their respective locations to bring us something beautiful to listen to.
- Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra – A beautiful online performance from the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, with an important message
- L’Orchestre National de France – Another beauty brought to you through the isolation orchestra movement, the Bolero by Ravel.
- Tasmania Symphony Orchestra – The TSO does a daily dose of music
- Easing anxiety through song – A good music news story coming out of Tasmania
- The Couch Choir – More than 1000 people from 18 countries submitted a video of their performance of ‘Close To You’ (The Carpenters) in just two days! Every submission that was successfully received was manually added to the collective. And then the magic unfolded…
- Virtual Choir “Va pensiero” (“Nabucco” by G. Verdi) – International Opera Choir, singing to you from Italy
- Couch Choir – Did you know that you can join this and add your own voice to the next song if you wanted to? Information on how to join them is here: and in the meantime, here is another song to listen
Have a go at learning something new
Duolingo – learn a new language online.
Music lessons – Fender is offering 3 months of free music lessons for some instruments.
Origami – Folding cranes started in Japan after World War II by a girl called Sadako who was left with leukemia after the bombing of Hiroshima. The legend goes that if you fold a thousand cranes you will be granted a wish. This may be a lovely community project. Folding a crane each day can provide hope and also can symbolise we’re a day closer to actually seeing each other again. Once this day comes, we can put all our cranes together collectively in one big public artwork – to further symbolise our resilience and connection within the community. Here is an easy tutorial on how to fold a crane.
Have some fun
It only takes a little creativity to bring a smile to your face.
Do you have a favourite piece of art you might like to recreate? You may find some inspiration from what others have done through the Recreate Art movement!
Enjoy Tassie’s nature form your living room with a movie night with the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.
Some light Relief
It’s all about the toilet paper….