We’ve reached a place in this time of isolation that has lost its novelty. Family time, rest, and even time outdoors has reached a point of monotony for some. People are restless. We can see the good that has come from it, but too much of even a good thing has the possibility of tipping the scales in a negative direction. Then there are those who have lost income and lost loved ones. It’s a tough time. Many people are reporting feeling stressed, stuck, trapped, not knowing what to expect, asking when this will end? Tensions mount, spouses get on each other’s last nerve, and too much togetherness triggers conflict.
It will be awhile before we see a total freedom from all restrictions. As a counselor listening to others this week, as well as facing my own struggles, I’m going to share a few suggestions and hope they might be helpful.
- Turn off the news. One update a day is adequate. Overloading on statistics, deaths, political rhetoric, and all levels of opinions can wear you down. Turn it off! Avoid social media hype.
- Focus on your health: sunshine, fresh air, exercise, eating right, water, sleep–all help your mental health as well as your physical health.
- Routines are good, especially for kids, but don’t be rigid. Be flexible. Kids are missing their friends, their teachers, their sports, etc. Help them find things that feed their creative side, laughter and security. Listen to their fears and anxiety, and reassure them. They hear and experience their parents’ stresses and it trickles down, so be careful and mindful of their needs, at all age levels.
- Don’t stop the family times, games, movies, cooking, etc. These activities might need a fresh breath of creativity by now, but they’re important, so go online or talk to friends about ideas.
- If you’re alone, be very careful about your self talk. Negative thoughts can spiral down into depression. Call friends or family, do video chats or take time to write a note to someone and put it in the mail. Focus outward, not inward. If you need to vent, grieve or share thoughts, do it! Don’t stuff it inside until you’re in despair. Reach out to someone and tell them you need to laugh! Laughter helps so much! Find a funny youtube video or movie.
- Do something you enjoy each day; pamper yourself. Deep breathe. Pray. Read your Bible.
- Schedule time outs for kids and for all of the family each day. Everyone needs some alone time.
- Remember to be patient with others. Most are operating outside their comfort zone. Give your spouse or others in your home permission to be alone, take a walk or a drive by themselves.
- Set new goals. Write them down. Envision a new season coming and what it will look like.
Look for a new perspective. How to look at things differently. Do things differently to get different results.
Ask yourself: how has this experience changed me? What have l learned about myself, or my family?
- Don’t minimize others’ fears. Pray for/with them, listen, let them share, express feelings.
- Find creative outlets to pass your time: paint, plant flowers, play with the dog, write your memoir, journal about this quarantine experience. Someday your grandkids will learn from it.
- Give yourself permission to nap, be non-productive at times, relax.
- Grieve losses—weddings, graduations, funerals, deaths, etc. Talk about them with a friend.
- Ask God to guard your thoughts and comfort your heart. He will. He’s listening.
- Call for help, don’t feel ashamed or prideful. Everyone struggles at times. You don’t have to always be the strong one for everyone else. Give yourself a break.
- Stop pushing yourself. Relax. Trust God. Remind yourself of all the hard stuff you’ve come through before in your life. Tell yourself you’ll get through this too–one day at a time.
- Be grateful for the blessings. List them. Smile. Breathe. Believe.
We can do this!