By Jeri Rothe, LCSW
We are almost two weeks into this quarantine period due to the pandemic of the Corona Virus. We are working from home, distance learning from home, exercising from home, eating, drinking and entertaining ourselves from home….. It is clear that we all need to STAY AT HOME!
So how should we handle all this “AT HOME” time? How is it effecting you emotionally? Are your kids scared; are you? These are uncertain and unprecedented times. It is natural to experience stress and anxiety. However, being aware of these stressors is what will better position us to address them. This is where our coping skills come in, and BOY, we need to use them now more than ever! If your go-to coping skills are difficult to use in the context of COVID-19 precautions, be creative. Take the opportunity to explore related skills. The more strategies you have in your toolkit, the better. The coping skills that work for you may vary per context, but having a variety of options allows you to be better equipped to handle your stress.
My friends, it’s all about how you want to think and look at things. Currently, we need to make the most of the reality that we are in. Instead of focusing on all the things we cannot do because of certain restrictions, let’s shift the focus to the coping mechanisms that we now have the opportunity to delve into! We are creative beings, but we are also social creatures. The need to physically interact, hug and be close is an innate one. So, we need to find ways to remain socially connected while physically disconnecting.
By thinking about COVID-19 differently, we now can react and handle it differently. How many times have you thought that there weren’t enough hours in the day? Or that you wish you had more time and weren’t so busy with “LIFE?” Well, now is the time to SLOW DOWN and be PRESENT. COVID-19 has forced us into that, so let’s take advantage. I read a nice article from Bill Gates yesterday in which he wrote, “The Corona Virus… is sent to remind us of the important lessons that we seem to have forgotten and it is up to us if we learn them or not.”
So, spend that quality time with your family, play cards, have family dinners, bake, do crafts. Be PRESENT… Laugh, be silly, have a dance party! Find the humor…. Humor is a wonderful coping strategy. I taught my kids how to play Rummy 500 last night. We played and laughed and they have already asked if we can continue the game again tonight 😊. I have had a few virtual social gatherings with friends I haven’t had the “time” to catch up with. Have your kids have virtual sleepovers, movie nights or play dates! They need to be social and engaged.
Let’s be thankful that this isn’t happening in the dead of winter. The weather should be getting warmer each day, (hopefully). Make sure everyone is taking time to be outside. Take those walks, with your family or just by yourself. Be creative. I have seen posts where neighborhoods are putting out exercise signs on their mailboxes for people to do as they walk by…how awesome! Have coffee on the front porch, watch the incredible sunsets, breathe in the fresh air!
However, it IS important to understand that the dynamics in our everyday lives are now different. Patience and communication are key. There are many families who have kids home from college now, and their kids don’t necessarily want to be home yet! LOL. Most families have kids who are extremely busy with activities; those are gone too. Their lives are very different now, and remember, they are only kids. They need time to process these changes and disappointments, because there will probably be more of them before this is all over. Let’s make sure we give them the time to do that. Let’s make sure we give ALL of us the time to do that. We need to be aware of how these changes will affect our dynamics at home; and communicate and make adjustments accordingly. Communication about expectations is key as well, because they should change too. And pick your battles my friends. This is the time to really think about what truly matters.
Now is the time for self-reflection and self-evaluation. Be kind, practice gratitude and empathy. We are all in this together… and I truly believe that we will emerge from this crisis with a better appreciation and respect for our fellow humans and citizens.
Stay safe and healthy!