By: April Carson
It is hard to keep your head on straight when you are living with the threat of COVID-19. You could be at work or taking care of your spouse and children, but it's difficult not to think about how little we know about this mysterious virus still. If I get sick, will my parents take me in? What if they refuse? If I go to the hospital, will they even take me since I can't afford their fees? And what about managing your children and their online classes? You and your kids are finally home after a week-long vacation full of fun times, but now you’re starting to feel like the house is closing in on you. You can barely stand another day together without going crazy from boredom or fighting over what to watch on TV all afternoon long.
You always thought that spending time with your children at home would be relaxing; instead it feels more like an episode straight out of "The Walking Dead". The games have gone stale, reading books has gotten old really fast (you think maybe they should read those for themselves), and no one even wants to play outside anymore because it's too hot! It seems as if everyone needs some alone time these days. The days when you wanted to just sit and read a book with your kids may seem like a dream now.
Unfortunately, this is our new normal. I know that you may not be too keen on staying at home for hours, but this is our way of life right now. It's better than nothing and we'll get through it together as a family unit! We don't have all the answers yet about how long this will last or what else to do when things settle down; instead focus on what's good in your everyday life: more quality time with those kids who are driving us crazy (and really can’t help themselves) and less stress from trying to keep up with everything while balancing work life demands. People reaching out has been great- there should always be someone willing to listen if that's something you need!
What can you do to keep your stress at a manageable level during a preventive quarantine? You may be surprised at some of the things you can do to stay positive while quarantined. Sheltering in place has its ups and downs. On the one hand, we’re saving money on gas and catching up on television. On the other, we’re at a loss because of our homes not providing us any entertainment options without the Internet. We are all doing our part to stop the spread of COVID-19. But it doesn’t have to feel like a prison sentence. If you are feeling restless or uneasy due to isolation, I have included a list of things you should try below.
Try Keeping a Routine: Routine is essential for both you and your kids. This isn't a vacation — work and school are still in session so set wake-up times, "office hours," free time, meal times, exercise etc. Stick to the routine as much as possible - mentally & physically it's better off that way! Have your kids write down their routines (and chores) Post them somewhere where people will see it. It's also important to have unstructured playtime which might mean having movie or game nights once in awhile.
Be Kind to Yourself: Being a parent and employee is hard. You're not expected to be perfect, but it's important you take care of yourself as well since we all just make this up as we go along. Arrange for your parents or other loved ones to have groceries delivered so they don't need anything from the store in person right now - even if that means sitting on the couch with them eating cookies! Have some downtime by video chatting with friends who help you feel better, too.
Go Outside: Nature can be a peaceful refuge from the fast-paced world. It’s important to get outside regularly, and doing so is an opportunity for exercise that will help your body maintain its stamina as well as give you some much needed mental relief. You may find yourself adapting to the slower rhythms of nature when hiking or walking on trails; these moments are just what you need right now in this hectic time!
Be Mindful of the News: Watching the news has become an unwelcome necessity for staying up to date on COVID-19. However, hearing about it too much can add unnecessary stress under these circumstances and experts are easing their recommendations of screen time limits during this pandemic. You should still be able to enjoy technology in other ways like streaming exercise classes or playing games instead while also taking breaks from a constant media loop that can cause more harm than good with excessive worry when you need your energy elsewhere!
Quarantine is a trying time and there are measures you can take to stay as relaxed as possible. Remember, if you are reading this during quarantine, please talk to a local healthcare professional but also make sure to be mindful of what you are feeling and pay attention to when those feelings are getting too much. It takes some time but I hope anyone who is reading this will feel some sort of relief about quarantine.