“2319! 2319!” We are all feeling a bit like that scene in Monsters Inc where an employee is contaminated with a foreign object of a human child, the scary lone white sock. In our world today, this object is COVID-19. While it is important to keep in mind physical health throughout this pandemic, it is just as important to look at your emotional health. Why is this important? There can be extra stress during public health pandemics which can include many things that you and your family may be experiencing. Fear, worry, difficulty in sleeping, eating, and concentrating (and not just because your kids are having a party while you are trying to work remotely at home) are all ways that stress can present itself during difficult times. That’s only naming a few. We all have been there where we feel overwhelmed, but now we have limited ways to let out our stress and anxieties so they tend to bubble up over time. I want to take a look at some ways that you can work on keeping ourselves emotionally healthy and releasing stress as an individual as well as a family unit throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Keep a Similar Schedule
First and foremost keep a schedule that is similar, if possible, to how your schedule was prior to all of this. If you get up at a certain time each day for work or school, continue doing that! Follow your regular morning routines as you would normally do as well. Since you will not be commuting to work or school, you might have some extra time in that routine – that is when you can throw in some of the extra activities we will talk about at the end of this post! You should also try to set different areas of the house to be designated areas for work, school, play, sleep, eat, etc. It will help keep your brain focused on the task at hand and allow for maximum concentration! Think about it – if at work you moved your computer to the break room, you would not be getting much work done. The same thing would happen if you moved your home office to the same spot you usually watch TV or sleep!
First and foremost keep a schedule that is similar, if possible, to how your schedule was prior to all of this. If you get up at a certain time each day for work or school, continue doing that! Follow your regular morning routines as you would normally do as well. Since you will not be commuting to work or school, you might have some extra time in that routine – that is when you can throw in some of the extra activities we will talk about at the end of this post! You should also try to set different areas of the house to be designated areas for work, school, play, sleep, eat, etc. It will help keep your brain focused on the task at hand and allow for maximum concentration! Think about it – if at work you moved your computer to the break room, you would not be getting much work done. Same thing would happen if you moved your home office to the same spot you usually watch TV or sleep!
Now that we know where we are going to situate ourselves for the day, let’s talk about what that area looks like. We all want to have the news on in the background to keep up to date on what is going on to protect ourselves and our loved ones, right? Information is powerful but we have to be mindful of what we are hearing and how that affects us. Sometimes, many updates about COVID-19 can bring different anxieties or complex fears up. One way to combat this is to limit your news updates you get to once per day rather than having a constant stream on in the background. Another way information can lead to worrying is receiving false information that can perpetuate unnecessary fear. It is important to always fact check information with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website to avoid getting any false information about the disease or outbreak.
Keeping the constant news reel off and continuing with social distancing does not always equate social isolation. It is important to still stay connected with friend and family through a multitude of acceptable ways. Take time to schedule a weekly, daily, or every other day contact with those who are close to you. That way, you don’t feel like intruding on other’s family time! It also allows for you to have more frequent contact because how many times have you said, “lets’ do this more often” and actually followed through? Anyone? . Social media, video conferencing, and phone calls are all ways that you can stay connected! You are probably familiar with the more familiar platforms to use such as Facetime and Skype, but one that is not so widely known is Marco Polo. This is an app where you can record video messages on a device like a phone, iPad, or tablet, send them to a person/group, and replay them at a later time (if desired). It is not live stream, so it is great for those with different schedules or whenever someone is missing a family member they can replay a message from them! Maintaining these connections is important as your support systems can help you cope with your stress as well as helping others cope with their stress. Community strength is how humans get through pandemics/disasters and building community through communication and support is key. No matter the way you connect with others, it’s important stay connected remotely to keep your emotional health in check.
Here are some ways you can calm down if feeling anxious or want to relax: **if you need activities for kids, please reach out to me directly, activities vary based on age and developmental level**
-Deep breathing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYQsRBNYdPk
Now let’s talk about releasing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You had great habits (or plans to start great habits) before all this began and now getting back into the groove may feel hopeless. Remember, you can still go outside as long as you are practicing social distancing and not in contact with many surfaces (i.e. not going to parks). This means going for walks around neighborhoods solo or in small groups of people within your household. If it is not a great weather day outside, or you prefer to stay inside, there are ways to keep active. Use things that are already at your disposal. If you have stairs in your home, go up and down the stairs or use tomato sauce cans as weights! Any effort IS effort.
Here are some great resources to keep you active!
- 4theKids: https://www.gonoodle.com/ à Website that has educational games and allows kids to get out energy in a fun way while remaining indoors!
–Freeze Dance: Yes, you remember the game. Turn on the jams and brush up on those listening skills! Rules are simple, dance when the music plays and when the DJ stops the music, everyone freezes!
Just remember that physical and emotional health are both important factors during this time. We at Camp Quality Illinois are here to support you and your family during this time. It is a challenging time for all and know that we are thinking about each and every one of you. Take this time to start new traditions whether it be game night or phone calls to long lost relatives! You will find that it may bring your family closer together (after you are done fighting about who ate the last favorite quarantine snack).
If you need individual support, please reach out to me firstname.lastname@example.org and I can provide support or referrals. If you find yourself or a loved one in need of immediate mental health support or suspect abuse of any kind, please contact one of the following:
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 800-273-8255
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233
- IL Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-252-2873; IN Child Abuse and Neglect Hotline: 800-800-5556