Humans are social beings, used to communing in-person with others, so the current stay-at-home situation to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus has impacted all of us in different ways.
For more introverted individuals, this quiet time in our homes may be welcome. For more extroverted folks, however, this may be increasingly difficult, which can lead to a range of emotions. It is important to protect the mental health of every family member during this uncertain time, recognizing that each person reacts to these new conditions in different ways.
Child and Family Therapist Julia Swaigen, MSW, RSW, is offering information and support video sessions for parents. (Find her at www.attunedfamilies.ca.) Julia offers these suggestions to help protect mental health for your family during this time:
- Project Confidence. When children feel scared or worried, they need to see their parents offering reassurance and a sense of calm. Even if you’re not feeling it deep-down, project as much confidence as you can to your children, even faking it if you must. Reassure them that this time will come to an end eventually, and most people will remain healthy.
- Practice Self-Care. If you don’t look after yourself, you can’t care for anyone else. Whether this means a morning jog, a 15-minute meditation, or making a healthy, nutrient-rich salad for lunch, it’s important to take care of yourself at a time when emotions can easily run haywire.
- Play! Children process emotions during play, so why wouldn’t the same be true for adults? Get down on the floor with your children, and follow their lead. If your children play hospital or virus outbreak, don’t be alarmed – it may be how they’re processing the situation and learning to cope.
- Stay Connected. Isolation is hard for even the most introverted people, so do what you can to connect with loved ones and friends outside of your home, in safe ways. Whether this means setting up Zoom calls with relatives living in other places or calling friends for a quick check-in, staying connected is crucial to maintaining good mental health. Within your home, take time each day to connect with family members. Hug, read stories, snuggle on the couch – connection regulates the nervous system, which keeps the immune system strong. When we have healthy relationships, our immune system gets a boost!
Some other ways to stay grounded and calm during this time include:
– Creating a family dinner calendar, and assigning each family member a day to come up with a meal plan. Cook together, if you can!
– Loosening up a bit on bedtimes and waking times to allow the body to reset to some natural sleep rhythms.
– Reading. Pull those books off the nightstand or shelf where they’ve collected dust and initiate a reading time each day to calm the nervous system and journey into new worlds.
– Play music or sing. Gather around the family piano or break into song in the backyard. Music lifts the soul.
Here are some resources:
New Online Resources for Mental Health during COVID-19
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Share with us your ideas for maintaining good mental health during this time! Contact our social media coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org to share an idea that we can offer to Waldorf Academy families in our next newsletter.