Youth Villages stories

8 Tips to Stay Mentally Healthy During Social Distancing

Mar 20, 2020

The current COVID-19 crisis has left many of us feeling helpless, stuck and uncertain. The constant media updates regarding the spread of the virus can make it difficult to manage the amount of information and maintain a sense of normalcy in your daily routine. Families, young adults and children may struggle with getting basic needs met, providing child care and managing stressors that are the result of engaging in recommended practices such as social distancing. Please see below for eight tips on self-care and familial support during this trying time.

  • Take breaks
    • Take breaks from watching the news and checking social media. While it is one thing to stay informed and up to date on the current crisis and prevention efforts, watching the news in excess can lead to information overload and increase stress and anxiety in an already difficult situation. The same applies to social media. While there are good and bad things available on social media, from the sharing of resources to social and community connections, there is also a lot of misinformation and negativity. Take this time to unplug a bit from news feeds.

     

  • Enjoy the outdoors
    • The weather is starting to get nicer, so take this time to explore nature. Maybe that means finding a new path or bike trail in your community, going for walks around your neighborhood, or blowing bubbles with a child. Remember to practice social distancing and healthy habits while outside and note that most playgrounds are closed throughout the area.

     

  •  Rediscover a hobby or an interest, or find a new one
    • Did you once sew? Maybe you love to draw? What about cooking or baking? Engaging in a hobby can not only pass the time but it can also reduce stress and anxiety. As you engage in activities you find pleasurable, your experiences of anxiety and stress may reduce.

     

  • Keep in contact with supports and loved ones
    • Although a lot of us are isolated due to safety precautions, take time to check in on friends and loved ones. Catch up on each other’s daily lives, share stories and tips of staying positive and healthy. We have so much technology at our fingertips that even if we cannot see one another face to face, you can still have quality time together. Challenge yourself to pick up the phone, skype, face time etc. Push yourself out of the comfort zone of texting. Stay connected with those in your circle.
  • Find humor
    • There is so much uncertainty right now, look for the little things. Maybe it’s something funny on a TV show or movie, maybe it’s something someone said to lighten the mood. Embrace laughter during this otherwise challenging time.
  • Explain the current crisis in language your child will understand
    • Depending on the age of your child, as well as their level of exposure to the state of events, it may be challenging to explain why all the playgrounds are closed, or that we can’t see grandparents. Use comforting and supportive language to reassure your child that this will pass, and they will be able to go to school and see friends and loved ones again. Explain that everyone is doing their part to work together to stay healthy. Most children can recall what it feels like to be sick, use that as a starting point to talk about the importance of not spreading germs, washing hands, and maintaining a safe social distance.
  • Keep things as normal as possible
    • Despite the current challenges, try to keep on your family’s normal schedule. It may be challenging if you’ve lost child care, are trying to navigate working from home or other competing demands. But, try to still engage in morning and evening routines, incorporate some learning into the day (this doesn’t have to be paper and pencil, it can be an experiential activity ) and don’t forget to include self-care.
  • Follow safety and health recommendations
    • As always, follow the recommendations from the CDC regarding safe exposure, prevention techniques and comply with local and regional safety expectations. Teach kids to wash their hands thoroughly, sneeze or cough into a tissue or their elbow, and remember that germs can live on surfaces for extended periods of time if not properly cleaned.

    Please remember, with everyone’s commitment to safety and health, we will get through this crisis.

Jacque Cutillo, Ph.D., LLP, LPC, LMHC
Clinical Manager
New England Community Based Programs
Youth Villages

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