by Allison Wilson, MS, LPC
With the extensions of our stay-at-home order, many parents are feeling the effects of continued isolation. After almost two months of some surreal version of home-schooling, most parents can agree that teachers deserve a hefty raise and a special spot in paradise for teaching and putting up with our children five days a week.
All joking aside, so many parents I speak to are struggling. We are all fighting our own battles. Parents started this period of quarantine with the belief that they just had to survive for a few weeks. For those who are still struggling, here is a quick list on ways to find some relief.
1. Remind yourself of things you can control. It is easy to get caught up in the chaos and uncertainty of what we can’t control.
2. Have a visual schedule. Creating routine and structure for your day or your kids’ day can increase feelings of safety and decrease anxiety. We could all use a greater sense of safety right now.
3. Set realistic expectations and know your own limits. It is easy to add to our own stress and feelings of inadequacy when what we want to accomplish in a day is not what we’re capable of doing. Allow extra time for tasks. It is better in the long run to feel positive and accomplished at the end of the day as opposed to beating ourselves up over all the things we didn’t get done.
4. Let go of the word “should.” None of us have a manual on what our lives “should” look like or how we “should” feel in a pandemic.
5. Talk to yourself as if you were talking to your best friend. We support, encourage, and lift our friends and loved ones. Permit yourself the same grace.
6. Sing! As leaders in trauma treatment agree, singing helps us feel better and regain emotional regulation. It is also a great way to connect to others and help us feel more in sync with those around us. Harmonize, sing a round; do it in person, over the phone, on a video conference call! It doesn’t matter what it sounds like; it matters that you increase your sense of connectedness.
7. Seize the moments and make memories. We’re living history and, for most of us, the world isn’t going to end if we spend 15 (or dare I say it, 60!) minutes making the most of the sunshine, being silly with our kids, or stealing some coveted alone time. It is ok if dinner is late. It is ok.
8. Check in with yourself and ask for what you need. Take the time to internally check-in with yourself. Notice what you are feeling and notice what you need…and follow through with it! Our families continue to thrive because we invest enough in ourselves to keep our worlds going.
9. Find reasons to laugh. Laughing releases stress, increases oxygen, and does so many other great things for our mind and body. Look up clips of your favorite sitcom from high school. Find a hilarious TED Talk. Plant a whoopy cushion. Whatever it takes!
10. Reach out for help. Reaching out when you need more support is critical. We are all in this together, and our communities are more united than ever. Just like the group trust circle sitting activity, we are not doing this alone; we are ALL leaning on someone. If you or a child is in a mental health crisis, CFS works in collaboration with Community Mental Health to serve you. You can access these services 24 hours a day by calling 1-833-295-0616 for people living Crawford, Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Missaukee, Roscommon, and Wexford counties; or for people residing in or visiting Antrim, Charlevoix, Cheboygan, Emmet, Kalkaska or Otsego counties call 1-877-470-4668 .
Allison received her BS in Psychology from Michigan State University and her MS in in Mental Health counseling from Capella University. She is an EAGALA certified professional in equine-assisted psychotherapy. She is also trained in eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) and trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy. She works with children, adolescents, adults and families. For more information on counseling at CFS, visit https://www.cfsnwmi.org/counseling.