surviving COVID-19 in Australia - how to deal with self-isolation

Dear 2020, you’ve been a crappy year so far. Everything is changing, and it feels like we’re adrift on a tumbling, angry sea, our fingers grasping at the railings. The helplessness of the current Coronavirus pandemic is crippling and the creeping hopelessness that climbs into your throat each day, can be utterly devastating. The gnawing pit of anxiety that digs away in your stomach, can make you sick. Grappling with how to keep your loved ones safe, while managing to keep everything afloat, is a confusing and complicated task. We’re literally living day-to-day.

The best way to counteract these feelings, is to reach out, talk, share your thoughts and worries. Acknowledge your fears and anxieties. Be kind to each other. Get your information from reliable sources. Come up with ways to do things together, while keeping apart.

The best antidotes to COVID-19 isolation, are taking breaks from social media and news, reading books, streaming your favourite shows and movies, cuddling your pets, finding bright spots and humour, having something to occupy your mind and your hands, dig in the garden, walk beneath trees, swim in the sea. Learn meditation and mindfulness. Do something creative! Write, draw, make something, do puzzles, do craft with your kids, sing, dance – do things that activate the creative side of your brain and give the over-thinking side a break.

COVID-19 isn’t about toilet paper or hoarding pasta. That’s a symptom of fear and panic, charged by erratic and unreliable information across social media and other media outlets. But if you’re at higher risk for serious impact, like me, and/or have loved ones at higher risk for serious impact, like me, don’t let anyone tell you not to worry, or that you’re silly to cancel parties, or events, or going to public gatherings, or avoiding people who have, or who have been overseas. It could in fact, be life-saving.

We’re getting an endless stream of cancellation posts and emails. People are struggling to work out how to survive financially. We’re facing a very real possibility of schools etc shutting down for a few months. The idea, is to slow the spread, take stress off our health system, for those who are going to need it over coming months. I am in that boat. I am scared, but also, trying to stay positive and calm, for my children’s sakes and my own. I already live with anxiety and if I allow it to devour me, I might disappear.

Nobody knows how this is going to impact Australia in coming months. We’re just beginning. We’re just guessing. While there are so many things we don’t yet understand about this virus, history shows social distancing has biggest impact on reducing spread. To help, don’t rush to hospitals and GPs with minor colds, inform yourself about the symptoms. We must consider our most vulnerable and be generous and kind to each other. Please be kind.

So many people and industries are being affected. Those working in health, supermarkets and essential services, will most likely need to keep going, no matter what happens, which is terrifying for them. Those of us in the arts and writing industries, are seeing all major events cancelled or postponed; all book tours, launches and so on, cancelled. People will suffer because we don’t have other sources of income or ways to make up for this. The arts are generally not supported by our government.

Please keep buying, sharing and reading books!

If you have a book about to be published in 2020, this is devastating. But, there are many ways to use the internet to promote, market, network, and sell your books. Here are just some of the things you can do online and from home, during the coming months of COVID-19. I will update this regularly.

  1. WriteKeep writing – stories are going to be even more important in the new world. Plus writing allows you to stop thinking about COVID-19 for a while and it allows you to express your thoughts and feelings
  2. Read – If you’re a book-lover, please keep reading and buying books. You can usually find out where to buy books online via author sites, publisher sites and major book social channels. There are podcasts and other ways to find out the latest news about new and upcoming releases. Many authors are starting streaming and group discussions about books, using virtual platforms. I will be sharing these regularly over the coming months, to help you find out more.
  3. Network – with all of the people offering opportunities for podcasts, video interviews etc – I’m going to post some here and will aim to keep sharing updates
  4. Market and promote – update your website, or start one. Get everything on there about your latest books. Post blogs and emails to your readers. Connect with agents and publishers and join together in running virtual meetings and events. Find out about pitch opportunities and other ways to connect to each other.
  5. Shop – you can always buy books online and have them delivered to your door!

Virtual Reader, Writer and Parent Resources For Surviving COVID-19 Isolation

  1. #loveozya – the team at LoveozYA have started inviting publishers and self-published authors to provide the information they need to spread news of new, Australian releases. Head here for details.
  2. Parents who are choosing, or forced, to keep children home – Al Tait has some great resources here for writing for kids; and the Scholastic home lessons website is brilliant – my 11 year old son and I will be using this starting today for home-schooling.
  3. With the cancellation of Newcastle Writer’s Festival, Macleans Books has set up a new releases section here 
  4. Aime Kaufman is hosting an hour-long #kidlitgoesviral Twitter party for YA and MG authors who have a book coming out the following day.
  5. Ashleigh Meikle is hoping to hear from Australian fiction writers who have cancelled their book tours in the wake of #COVIDー19. If you’ve been affected, please let her know – and feel free to spruik your book!
  6. Dr Anna Whateley is running #Auschat doing video chats with a range of writers
  7. Melbourne City of Literature is doing virtual book launches
  8. Australian Indide Booksellers – All the best books from your local independent bookseller
  9. From publisher Susannah Chambers – socially isolated parents – did you know that many publishers have web pages dedicated to teacher resources? They are often packed with downloadable resources/fun activities for tiny kidlets through to teens. Head here for Allen and Unwin’s
  10. Just Write For Kids – regularly do book reviews and recommendations
  11. Middle-Grave Mavens – also do the above with their podcast
  12. Wai Chim is building a super simple webpage/platform for authors to have digital events during #kidlitquarantine
  13. ABC education has engaging collection of 90+ #digibooks – a wonderful tool to help teachers and parents facilitate learning. They are all mapped to the Australian Curriculum and cover a range of subjects and topics! Head here.
  14. Twinkl has incredible teaching resources for parents, based on the Aust curriculum. I have created a weekly lesson plan using these. Head here and use the code AUSTRCODE

We will survive this, as we will survive the next new virus and the next bushfire season and the next disaster and the next. We can rise up, support each other and change how we do things, to protect each other and our beautiful mother earth.

Seize the day, my friends, seize the day. Much love, in human kindness and solidarity

xx Helen

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