Corona Virus - Advice For Young People

Advice for Young People from DES

Relaxation Techniques Podcast

Relaxation Techniques - Podcast Text Document

Department of Education Sample Plan for the Day


Example Plan for the Day

During this time of school closure, some students will have been given a structured timetable to follow by their teachers. This will vary depending on age and year group. The following is an example of a Plan for the Day for students who are designing their own schedules.

Remember to plan for schoolwork, physical exercise and household jobs as well as activities you enjoy, connecting with friends and family and taking some free time and food breaks throughout the day.




Tick when complete √


Breakfast/Wash/Dress/Get ready for school work






Fifteen minute break – relax (healthy snack and listen to music/check phone)





Exercise & jobs in the house



Lunch & enjoyable activity


Schoolwork (followed by a short break)




Enjoyable activity & physical activity


Enjoyable activity & jobs in the house


Dinner time (& tidy up)

Evening Plan

Family time & relax

Ullmhaithe ag An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Siceolaíochta Oideachais Prepared by the National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)

Relaxation Techniques

Mindfulness Exercise

Mindfulness is the process of bringing one’s attention to the present moment. This is a simple mindfulness technique.

  • Choose an object (it can be anything) from your immediate environment

  • Focus on watching it for a minute or two

  • Don’t do anything except notice the thing you are looking at

  • Simply relax into a harmony for as long as your concentration


  • Look at it as if you are seeing it for the first time

  • Visually explore every aspect of its shape

  • Allow yourself to connect with its energy and its role and


Muscular Relaxation

Tense and relax different muscle groups in your body. As your body relaxes, so will your mind. You can combine deep breathing with progressive muscle relaxation for an additional level of stress relief.


  • Right foot, then left foot

  • Right calf, then left calf

  • Right thigh, then left thigh

  • Hips and buttocks

  • Stomach

  • Chest

  • Back

  • Right arm and hand, then left arm and hand

  • Neck and shoulders

  • Face

1 An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Sieolaíochta Oideachais National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)


Deep Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises help reduce feelings of arousal and physical tension. The key to deep breathing is to breathe deeply from the abdomen, getting as much fresh air as possible into your lungs. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen you get, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.

Example 1:

  • Sit in a comfortable position with your arms and legs uncrossed.

  • Inhale slowly through your nose or mouth (one-thousand one, one thousand, two, one-thousand three), and fill your lungs.

  • Silently and gently say to yourself, “I’m filling my body with


  • Exhale slowly through your mouth (one-thousand one, one- thousand two, one-thousand three), and comfortably empty your lungs.

  • Silently and gently say to yourself, “I’m letting the tension drain away”.

  • Repeat five times slowly.

Example 2:

  • Sit comfortably with your back straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach.
  • Breathe in through your nose. The hand on your stomach should rise. The hand on your chest should move very little.

  • Exhale through your mouth, pushing out as much air as you can

    while contracting your abdominal muscles.

  • The hand on your stomach should move in as you exhale, but

    your other hand should move very little.

  • Continue to breathe in through your nose and out through your


  • Try to inhale enough so that your lower abdomen rises and falls.

    Count slowly as you exhale.

2 An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Sieolaíochta Oideachais National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)



Close your eyes and use your imagination to imagine that you are walking down a soft wide path towards the ocean. As you walk you feel calm and safe – breathing in and out – calmly and deeply.

You can hear the waves rolling onto the beach. You can smell the ocean. You can feel a beautiful cooling breeze on your face. As you continue along the path - breathing in and out – slowly and deeply – you feel the sand beneath your feet – it’s soft and warm. The sun is shining and the sea is blue and glistening. The sound of the waves rolling onto the beach feels comforting and relaxing. And as you look out at the sea you can match your breathing to the pattern of the waves – slowly in and deeply out– relaxed and happy. You can feel the sun’s warmth filling the whole of your body as you gaze towards the water which is bright and blue and green. The beach is golden, long and wide and there is no-one here but you. This is your beach – your place – your time.

Breathing in, filling your body with warmth and relaxation and breathing out – letting go of any stress. As you continue to breathe slowly and deeply, lower yourself onto the sand. Sitting here quietly you can watch the waves lapping onto the beach – the water is clear and bright and as you watch you continue to feel the warm relaxing feeling flowing over you – and you feel safe and happy and content.

There is no-one here but you – this is your beach – this is your place – this is your time. Sitting here in the warm, soft sand, soaking up the sunshine you feel strong and calm and you feel ready to return. Breathing in and out ...slowly and deeply.

Body Focus

Take a deep breath and close your eyes for a few moments. Sense where your body is in contact with the environment around you (chair, floor etc.). Sense where your weight is resting. Now take another deep breath and move your body in some way to get more comfortable and relaxed. Are there any parts of your body that feel very tense or sore? If you find one, take a deep breath and try to imagine that place loosening up. Then gently and slowly move that part of the body just a little bit to let it loosen and relax.

3 An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Sieolaíochta Oideachais National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)


Apple Picker Stretch

Imagine you are under the branches of an apple tree. Standing with both arms up in the air and gently bouncing on tip toes, reach up as high as you can and grab at the imaginary apples with one hand then the other. Then gently drop your hands and bend over towards the floor as far as you can with knees slightly bent. Then sway gently from side to side for a few moments before slowly rising up, one vertebra at a time, with the neck and head coming up very last. (Remember to keep breathing).

4 An tSeirbhís Náisiúnta Sieolaíochta Oideachais National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)

COVID-19 (Coronavirus):

Advice for Young People while Schools are Closed

Stay Responsible & Informed

Stay Active & Connected

Stay Positive & Calm

The Government has made a decision to close all schools in Ireland in order to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 virus in Ireland and keep as many people as possible safe and well. We have not been in this situation before, so this is new to us all, but if we follow the right advice we will get through this, and in time we will be proud of how we responded, working together to support our country. You have a part to play in this. Some of you may be ready to take on the challenge of social/physical distancing and doing schoolwork at home, some of you may be bored and fed up and others may be feeling worried or anxious about what these changes may mean. We are all adjusting and adapting. When trying to think about how you can support yourself, your family, your community and your country in the coming weeks, remember these three key messages:

Stay Responsible & Informed

Stay Active & Connected

Stay Positive & Calm

1. Stay Responsible & Informed:

x Follow the HSE advice on their website (see link at end) on protecting yourself, practicing social/physical distancing and on ways to avoid spreading the virus.

x Keep up-to-date with information posted on the Department of Education

& Skills’ Twitter account (see link at end).

x Without the facts, we may believe rumours and imagine situations far worse than reality. Stick to reliable, trustworthy sources of information such as the HSE, the Department of Health, the Department of Education and Skills, the World Health Organisation (see links at end) and trustworthy mainstream news sources, such as RTE.

x Take breaks from the news and social media as this makes us less vulnerable to ‘fake news’ and limits our exposure to unhelpful or inaccurate information.

x Remember that the Government is working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy and safe.

x Remember, too, that not everyone will get the virus and the vast majority

Developed by the DES National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS) 1

who get it will recover fully. At times like this we all need to support each other: o Be kind and look out for each other. o Remember no individual or group is ‘responsible’ for the virus. o Making negative comments about others in relation to the virus is not helpful, it’s important to challenge your friends and family if they are doing this.

o If people you know get the virus remember that it’s not their fault. They have been unlucky and need our support.

2. Stay Active & Connected:

Routines and schedules are the key to getting through this new phase of our lives. Making our days structured and predictable will help us feel secure and reassured. Schools have closed and this has changed our regular daily routines. During this time of Covid-19 let’s create new routines. Keeping busy, having a sense of purpose and feeling in control of our time is very important. You can help yourself get through this time by creating a Plan for the Day, every evening for the day ahead (see link at end). Following your normal school day can be your guide. Don’t forget to discuss your plan with your family to make sure that your scheduling of mealtimes, showering, computer time etc. works for everyone in the house. When you are creating your Plan for the Day think about the following:

x Include some basic daily activities: Sleep is good for your health and wellbeing so it’s important to get plenty of sleep - eight to twelve hours is recommended for young people. Leaving your phone/laptop/tablet outside of your bedroom will help you to get a good night’s sleep. It’s also important to eat healthily, to drink lots of water and to take care of personal hygiene. Aim to include sleep, taking exercise, showering and getting dressed into your daily routine.

Developed by the DES National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)


Include some physical activity & housework:

o Going for a walk or run/doing weights/jumping on a trampoline/ following an exercise routine on line or by using an App

o Tidying your room (make your bed/keep your space clean and tidy) o Helping with the housework (empty and load the dishwasher/mow the lawn/wash the car/vacuum/ help with the shopping/with cooking/with washing & ironing)

Include some social activity:

o We all find it hard to be away from our friends and to practice physical/social distancing. Use technology to stay in touch, and if you absolutely have to meet a friend you must stay two metres apart. (The Government really needs your help with this.)

o If you have relatives, family or neighbours who may be lonely or who live alone, why not give them a ring? Remember in particular older relatives.

o Reconnect with your family. Find similar interests and plan to watch TV together, play board games/make a jigsaw or help with the housework together. Maybe you can help a younger brother or sister with their schoolwork.

Include enjoyable and creative activities:

o Try something new. Use YouTube to take up a new hobby. o Do a crossword, read, draw, paint, write or listen to music. o Capture each day by documenting it through writing, recording or photography. Keep a journal/diary of this time. It might be something that you will really value in the future. o Write/email a letter to a friend or relative or elderly neighbour.

o Watch a favourite TV programme.

o Share and enjoy fun TikToks with friends. o Prepare a meal. Bake a cake.

Include schoolwork:

o It is important that your new routine on weekdays mirrors the normal school day, as much as possible. One option may be to follow the order of subjects as they appear on your usual school timetable. Another option may be to take a short break after what is the usual length of a class period in your school.

o It is important that you make time each day to complete some schoolwork. Keep a log of what you have worked on each day. o Some schools are using technology to support students with their schoolwork. If your school is doing this, remember to check the school website and your email regularly.

Remember it is often hard to motivate yourself and stay focused when working alone at home. This is normal. Taking regular breaks and rewarding yourself is key to staying motivated.

Developed by the DES National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)


3. Stay Positive & Calm

Over the next few weeks you may have lots of different feelings. It may all feel a bit unreal. We may feel anxious, sad, afraid, fed up, angry, shocked or even numb. We may feel nothing at all. This is all ok and these are all normal and healthy reactions to stressful situations, such as the Covid-19 outbreak. There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to feel. If our feelings and reactions seem different from those of our friends, remember that everyone reacts differently. There are things we can do, to help, such as:

x Talk to family and friends about your feelings. Sharing our thoughts or worries with others really does help.

x Remember that there are a lot of rumours and ‘fake news’ going around at the moment. If you are worried about them, talk to an adult or parent.

x Get your information from a reliable source.

x Continually talking about Covid-19 or watching constant updates on it can increase your anxiety. Try to limit accessing information on the internet/ television/social media that might be upsetting to you.

x Covid-19 will pass and life will get back to normal.

x Look at this break from your normal routine as a time to pay attention to yourself and make a special effort to take care of yourself. Try to get some extra sleep, eat nutritious foods and get some exercise, even if it is just a walk.

x Practice some relaxation techniques (see link at end).

x Do something you enjoy. Think about something that makes you feel good, then make it happen – like listening to music, going for walks, doing an exercise routine, watching a funny movie. Remember laughter is good medicine!

Check out these hyperlinks:

Plan For The Day

Relaxation Techniques

Check out these websites, this list is not exhaustive:


o Social/Physical Distancing

o Department of Education & Skills


o Department of Health

o World Health Organisation (WHO)




o Little Things Campaign

Developed by the DES National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS)


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