During this time, I have noticed we have all gone through different stages of adjusting to the new, ever changing normal. When the virus first became a reality, people accepted and dealt with it at different levels. Some people immediately became fearful and took the advice to self-quarantine. In some states this was not a choice. My son has been quarantined, in Seattle, since March 1st! He is going stir crazy in a house with 4 roommates, not enough toilet paper, for a time not enough food, and none of them working. All five of them have lost their jobs and tomorrow is April 1st, rent is due. At this writing my son is sick with the virus. Positive vibes accepted for his healing.
My daughter is in Los Angles where they have been ordered to Stay in Place for several weeks now. Initially, she was fearful and crying. She called me and kept telling me she was scared. What could I do from almost 3,000 miles away except listen and talk to her? Not much. It is a pretty scary feeling when you can’t get to or help your kid.
One of my foster daughters is 19, with a three-month-old baby in Anchorage. Two days ago, her boyfriend beat her up, was arrested, and she was taken to a women’s shelter. The shelter has put her in a hotel for two weeks to be quarantined before she enters the shelter. She has limited food and money (Thankfully there is PayPal). She is crying to have me help get out of Alaska and to us. Another situation where I can’t mother or help my adult child as needed. As tensions build and people are stuck in their homes, we have already seen an increase in domestic violence, and it has hit close to home for me.
Having my inner circle people also in South Carolina, Chicago, Santa Fe, Atlanta, and Alaska makes my tribe spread out over the country. Looking at the map and hearing about their situations brings us close but can be stressful from so far away.
I noticed fears arising a couple weeks ago. As people began to be shut-in, I saw people watching the news 24/7 and nothing else. It was hard to adjust to this new world. I admit my schedule went wacky. Although I am working virtually, sessions were canceled due to loss of jobs, and at home I was watching too much news. I noticed one day last week four people in my orbit asked me what day it was. People were having difficulty focusing. I am usually an avid reader but was unable to read any of the books or magazines I have on my coffee table and Ipad. I was staying up later than usual and sleeping in later than usual. My dogs seemed confused as to why I was home all day! I’m still not sure if my retired husband likes me being home full time or if he misses his alone time.
This week I think people are accepting and adjusting to this crisis although people are starting to know people who are sick with the virus. People seem to know what day it is. I am getting fewer stressed calls from my LA daughter. She now calls to tell me which exercise class she took on YouTube or what she cooked that day. My son has found a store that sells single rolls of toilet paper and seemed to have enough food when he fell ill. My foster daughter is still in a hotel and not doing very well. She must deal with the thought of being on her own with baby, isolated and struggling. When (and it will) the virus dies down I will look at being able to get her to Florida if she hasn’t reunited with her boyfriend. (Sadly, it takes an average of three times for a woman in a violent relationship to successfully leave.)
As we all adjust, at different rates, to the new normal there are some things I want to suggest to help us get through this!
We all have heard or are experiencing the anxiety and uncertainty of these times. Now that 87% of us in the country are under mandatory stay home orders, people are experiencing different emotions at different levels of severity. Many people live alone and are now completely alone. My mother lives five minutes from me and I am trying to see her a few times a day including making dinner for her every night. Over the weekend we took a long drive just to get out.
This virus has caused a loss of control for all of us. Not knowing what the future brings, who will get sick, how sick people will get, and the fear of death are challenging thoughts to deal with. A loss of control over our individual and our family’s routines and health is scary! This can lead to irritability, fear, uncertainty, anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts. So, what do you do when the world feels so out of control?
By this time, I hope people are beginning to adjust. Having a structure and routine means trying to get to bed and wake up around the same time during the weekdays. If you have kids developing and posting a schedule for the family is a good idea. Be sure to include when to get up, chore time, exercise time, school time, family time, and bedtime.
I saw an article on The Forks and Knives site that talked about SNAPS to remember what we need to do daily for our sanity and to take care of our mental health.
Sleep enough and not too much. Try to maintain a healthy sleep schedule.
Be sure to eat for healthy Nutrition. Not only will this keep your immune system boosted it will help mitigate depression and anxiety.
Get moving, with physical Activity. Exercise is so important during these times. It boosts serotonin levels to ward off depression and anxiety. It is so important to get out of your house daily. The beaches here are now closed. My happy place. Now I walk, run, and bike around my neighborhood for what feels like hours a day with my Pitbull who needs a ton of exercise. I am home, working virtually, and if he doesn’t have enough exercise he barks during my sessions!
It amazes me the amount of exercise classes you can find on YouTube. There is no excuse for not exercising daily now. We have plenty of time.
Play. This is so important! Be sure to play with family and friends even if it must be on Zoom. I’ve had more than one dance party with my family on Zoom. Don’t forget to take a virus break and find some joy and laughter.
Remember to nourish your Soul. Now is a great time to find the space and time to meditate or to take a yoga class on YouTube.
Have you ever used an Adult Coloring Book? This is a great activity to keep you grounded and mindful. It is also a wonderful coping skill when you are experiencing anxiety. There are some cool ones out there or just grab whatever you must draw and color with and doodle, draw, or color.
Now is a perfect time to start journaling. This is the craziest time I have seen in my life. What about you? Keeping a journal of how you are spending your days, how you are feeling, and having your kids do the same not only passes time but is a record of what went on during this time. Journaling is also a healthy coping skill for mental health issues.
We are all learning new ways of communicating with each other during this time. Healthy communication is not only a valuable practice for adults but also for children who may be experiencing stress or confusion during this time. Help your children express their emotions by talking to them, giving them an assignment to draw their emotions out helping them to journal if they are old enough. I have a friend who is having her teens journal everyday during this crazy time. Here is a link to their online Coronavirus Blog
I am checking in with my inner circle people daily by text, phone, messaging, and face-time. Don’t forget to frequently contact people who may be quarantined and alone. My 75-year-old mother has been calling all the single people on lists from her church and her neighborhood to check in with them and just to say hello. She tells me she has made some new friends by doing this.
Although I do not usually promote video game playing, I have had several people who have told me about the new game Animal Crossing. Apparently, it is about building community on an island. The characters are animals. There is no violence. One person told me the game is “wish fulfillment, relaxing and escapism”.
Can you imagine if this crisis had occurred before the Internet? I don’t even want to imagine that! I taught myself to French braid my hair. Something I had never had the patience or ability to do. Now with more time on my hands, and not rushing to get to the office I have had more time post shower and was able to make my first French braid!
My husband and I have been having a fierce Backgammon tournament. I can’t even remember the last time I played a game! Board games are great family activities. Amazon is still delivering, and games can be inexpensive.
Whatever you find to do to keep yourself sane during this locked in period remember to try to find some joy every day. Be grateful for the small things. Remember to tell those you love you love them every single day even ten times a day because these times are so unpredictable.
Take care of your mental health in whatever ways you can. If you need help or some ideas, please reach out to me or any other mental health workers. You are not alone! We are all, globally, in this together!