What can we do besides washing our hands for 20 seconds frequently and distance ourselves socially?
For one, this is a stressful and frightening time for all of us. You’re not alone. Many of us are worried about our health or the health of loved ones. Many are struggling with either finding child care or figuring out how to keep the kids busy. Many are worried about losing our jobs or other financial worries. Do we have enough food and supplies in the house? The list seems endless. Experts are advising the following:
Accept the way you feel. If you’re anxious, sad or angry, acknowledge it. The more we try to avoid or push away these feelings, the stronger they get. Some call it “riding the wave” as the feelings will rise and come down again naturally. We just need to ride it out.
If your emotions feel like too much, sometimes putting cold ice packs or water on your face or doing some exercise can help.
If you’re watching the news to stay informed about the virus and how to stay safe, that’s good, but don’t over watch the news. This can make you more anxious and depressed.
Take good care of yourself. This is not selfish, you deserve it. Try to get enough sleep, try and eat enough fresh fruits and vegetables, drink plenty of water, and get exercise (if indoors: clean the house, go up and down stairs, dance to music, do online exercises), avoid alcohol or smoking as they may seem to reduce stress initially, but they often make things worse. Have enough medicine in the house and make sure it’s out of the reach of children.
Distract yourself with something that feels good to you. Watch a funny show or movie, read a book, play games, eat your favorite food, draw, listen to music, sew, knit, paint, arts and crafts, sing. Bake or cook something that fills the house with pleasing aromas. Use good smelling lotion. Let it be something that elevates your mood or relaxes you.
Be mindful. Take deep breaths, meditate, pray, take a bath or shower…whatever you’re doing, put your mind on that one thing only and let everything else go.
Create new routines- as our normal routines are disrupted, create new ones. Have regular waking and bedtimes and mealtimes for you and your family. Have TV or computer time, times for the family to play games together, alone or private time, homework time. Remember, kids like structure and it’s important to stick to a routine.
Stay connected with friends and family through social media, email or by phone. Reconnect with family and friends you’ve lost touch with. Or contact our counseling department for support or referral to an agency who can help.
Let your younger children talk to you about the coronavirus. You can be reassuring and let them know that kids seem to have milder symptoms. Focus on what you can do to stay safe like washing their hands for 20 seconds or two happy birthday songs. Try to answer your child’s questions without giving too much information that can be overwhelming. If you don’t know something, let them know. Above all, be calm yourself before talking to kids. If you’re stressed and fearful, that is not a good time to talk. Stick to a household routine which can make kids feel secure and safer.