COVID-19 brings a world of changes — it’s a reality most of us wouldn’t have predicted, and yet it’s our new reality in 2020. Social distancing, lockdown, toilet paper shortage, schools and restaurants closed. Kids learning from home while moms and dads navigate the nuances of either getting to work, or working from home while their children Zoom with their teachers and eat them out of house and home. We’re calling it social distancing, but socially we are more connected than ever. Across the country we are living this reality, a shared experience in households from Massachusetts to Montana. Physically we may be apart, but we’ve never better understood what the people around us are going through.
If you’re struggling with navigating these changes during the COVID-19 outbreak, you aren’t alone. Many of us are experiencing stress, fear or family conflict due to the changes in our work, home, and community. Here are some ways to manage your stress levels during this time:
Get outside! Take advantage of your outdoor space, whether at home, in your yard or in your neighborhood. Fresh air and exercise have great benefits, and are especially helpful if your children are growing stir-crazy. Even just 10-15 minutes spent outside can have great benefits — but the longer, the better!
Stick to a routine. It may not be perfect, and it definitely doesn’t have to be a pretty, Pinterest-worthy, color-coded routine. A rough schedule of wake up times, morning prep and predictable work and school times can help set a comforting rhythm for your day. Kids especially benefit from predictability.
Essential employee? Going to work everyday during the pandemic can be stressful, scary, and overwhelming. If you’re an essential employee — thank you! Take care of yourself during this time and don’t be afraid to tell people what you need. Take advantage of your natural supports, such as family and friends, and let them know you could use their support. At home, set time everyday to care for yourself. Spend 10 minutes alone with a cup of tea, meditating, with a book – whatever feels good for you. You are important, and you have to take care of yourself too.
Step away when you need to. This goes for everything — kids school work overwhelming you or causing excessive stress? Reach out to their teachers, and don’t be afraid to set limits for what your family can do. Schools know we are all juggling a lot, and they want to support you. Getting overwhelmed with social media? Use your phone’s screen time feature to limit the amount of time you’ll allow on social media, and stick to it. Information overload doesn’t help you or your kids.
Make special memories during this time! Are there things you or your family have wanted to do but haven’t been able to? Maybe it’s a special scrapbook, a movie night, a new recipe or a game of tag in the yard. When you look back on this time, you probably won’t remember how much work you accomplished or how clean your kitchen was — but your family will remember how you felt and the special things you did.
Stay connected. FaceTime friends. Bring back letters! You can order stamps online and have them delivered to you. Write letters to relatives and friends, especially those who are isolating alone at home. Connect your kids to pen pals, such as relatives out of state or friends they miss from school. Schedule a Zoom with your friends to catch up, or try virtual get-togethers, like the new Netflix Watch Party. Don’t believe that you are alone — you aren’t.
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For more information, go to ummhealth.org/mychart and sign up!