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The Covid19 pandemic continues and our mental health continues to be tested on a daily basis for strength and resilience. There are unique stressors associated with the pandemic, but as noted on social media, “We’re all in the same storm, but we have different boats.” The experience is a little different for everyone. Covid related stress include things such as changes in social support, changes in routine, uncertainty for the future, mask fatigue/decision fatigue/hand-washing & hygiene fatigue, and many more that include job loss, loss of loved ones, coping with illness, grieving… the list goes on. Many are now working from home, schooling from home, and navigating changes on a daily basis. We used to meet up with friends, family to socialize and celebrate special occasions. Now we are reliant on social media, Zoom and other video platforms, and distanced visits if the weather cooperates. All of these stressors impact our mental health. For parents, there is also concern about their child(s) social emotional development, behavior, sadness, worries, fears…
Common mental health difficulties include stress but also anxiety, depression, sadness, irritability, “burn out,” and frustration. We are battling changes in sleeping patterns, eating habits, and daily routine. We are experiencing increased headaches, stomach aches, and general aches and pains. We feel tired, unmotivated, and can find it hard to concentrate and make decisions. These symptoms are also experienced by children. Parents can reach a point of “burn out” and struggle with irritability, anger, and a strong desire to “take a break” from kids. It’s ok to feel this way sometimes, but if you’re feeling this consistently, it’s time to seek out some help. Telehealth, also called online counseling, is one way to address the stressors and your mental health without having to leave your house.
The first important thing to know is that kids are resilient. They’ll bounce back from this pandemic with their peers. Remember, their entire cohort is experiencing the same storm we are. Parents need to also care for themselves so that they can care for their children. It can be hard to find the time to do this, so here are some brief strategies that can be built into daily living if online counseling isn’t for you at this point.
1. Breathe. Inhale through your nose for a count of 5, exhale from your mouth for a count of 10. Slow down.
2. Listen to music. Dance. Sing.
3. Spend 5 extra minutes in the shower. Enjoy the feel of the water, the scents.
4. Write an “old fashioned” note or letter to a friend.
5. Scan your body. What is it telling you? Do you need to stretch? Breathe? Fidget?
6. Talk to someone.
7. Establish a routine for exercise, healthy eating, and sleep. Sleep hygiene is so important.
8. Close your eyes and listen for a moment. What do you hear?
9. Look around the room for patterns, colors, textures. What do you see?
10. Pause housework and spend time with your kids. Play. Watch a movie. Dance.