27 Mar 2020

What we can, and cannot control – a message from our school Counsellor


I previously shared a picture that most students will have seen that contains what is your responsibility, and what is not your responsibility. In the last week, another counsellor shared with me the above picture about Covid19. It lists as you can see,  the things that no one can control on the outside of the circle such as other people’s behaviour or how long this situation will last.

The situation and the fact that the IB and GCSE exams have been cancelled are big issues to come to terms with. As they are outside of our control, it’s essential that we learn to let go of things like these.

For those of you that have learnt about the ‘Worry Filter’, you would be listing these items as ‘Useless Worries’ and applying strategies accordingly. For more information about the ‘Worry Filter’, please access via the shared counselling resources or this link.

Instead, we need to focus on what is inside the circle in the picture, as it contains things that you can control as they are your responsibilities and actions. Things that you should focus on are; your positive attitude, your kindness and grace, social distancing, limiting negative social media and finding fun things to do.

I know it’s very hard to block some of the information out, but it is essential to look after your own mental health. Focus on things that are within your control and responsibility, make sure that you eat healthy, enjoy good sleep and regular exercise. There are a lot of resources online, most of which are free at the moment.  Some of them are in the resources link and I will continue to add to it.

It’s important to get true facts about the updated situation – however reduce or limit your time on social media. Instead use some of your time to listen to music or watch movies and connect to others. Things that take you to a nice place or time, feel safe and give you a break from stress or pressure are good for your wellbeing.

In relation to moving forward, it’s essential that you over the next few weeks you start to set yourself goals. Again, there are lots of ideas and free resources that are increasing on a daily basis.

Recently, John Shanahan, a well known psychologist recorded a presentation on Managing Stress and Enhancing Performance.

Another good resource is this ebook by Dr Russ Harris, author of the Happiness trap.

FACE COVID offers 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

In honour of Stress Awareness Month in April, MindHK has organised a free webinar on Managing Mental Health during the COVID-19 Outbreak on 1 April from 8-9.30pm.

Learn more and register here.

Stay safe, happy and well.

Shiralee Sisson
Island School Counsellor