As the Post Permanency Coordinator for AdoptionLinks at JFS, I support families who are stressed and in crises. Besides this pandemic, they typically have to deal with trauma left over from their adoptive children’s early life. Between this and my role at home managing my adult son with a disability, I have created some words of wisdom to help us all navigate through the Coronavirus.
Here we go again. New lockdowns and surging numbers. Do not despair. There is a light at the end of the tunnel: VACCINES are coming. In the meantime, read on for practical strategies to keep your mood balanced and your stress to a minimum.
- ACCEPT that we are in a Pandemic. We have all gotten so used to the world of COVID that it becomes easy to normalize masks, hand sanitizer, remote work and school, and stress. Allow yourself to grieve for your old life. Allow yourself to be sad, mad, and confused, and certainly afraid. Move through your feelings, notice them, and then let it all go.
- LOWER YOUR STANDARDS! We are in the midst of a global pandemic. These are extraordinary times. Your house does not have to be clean all the time. You do not have to cook every meal. Take shortcuts with food and meals and other household duties. Most importantly, do not beat yourself up about it.
- Get OUTSIDE and move. Be in nature. Bundle up. Take a walk. Look up at the sky at night and examine the stars. Explore the birds in your yard. Get out of your house every day and let nature be your balm.
- Practice KINDNESS: Buy your neighbors groceries. Write cards to cheer nursing home residents up. Bake bread and drop it off at your friends’ homes. Call your local food bank and see how you can safely help.
- LIMIT your exposure to the NEWS. Turn off the radio. Do not watch TV or read all the latest COVID statistics. Take a day off. Allow yourself to read the news only once per day. Be mindful of all the incoming negative messages.
- LISTEN to a self-help PODCAST, an inspiring TED TALK, an uplifting AUDIO BOOK. Even if you are in a house full of people, stick those earbuds in and go. Use your outside time to walk and listen. Remember that you can change your perspective with positive incoming messaging.
- Get a GOOD NIGHT of SLEEP. Make sure you do some physical activity every day to help with this. Do not spend too much time in your bed before it is time for sleep. Check out the CALM app for winding down before sleep. Turn off your electronics 30 minutes prior to sleep.
- TRY SOMETHING NEW. Online yoga. A hobby you always wanted to try. A house project with the support of all those great DIY tutorials. Try a meditation practice. A cooperative game with your family. Learn how to knit. Take up painting. Become a bird watcher.
- Learn how to be like TEFLON: let negative emotions and energy roll right off you. It is OK to put up boundaries to keep your inner self safe and balanced. This can work for being around dysregulated children, disgruntled spouses, struggling co-workers, or even hearing disruptive news. It is not selfish. Put yourself first so you can be of service to others.
- START a JOURNAL. With the holidays upon us, it can be helpful to write down your worries, your feelings, what you miss, what you hope for. Just spending 15 minutes a day writing in a journal can help relieve stress.
And remember to mask up, keep your distance, and wash your hands.
If you find you are having trouble concentrating, sleeping, feeling sad and worried, give yourself permission to reach out to a mental health counselor. With telehealth abundantly available right now, it has never been easier to seek mental health support. JFS is offering Telehealth therapy appointments. You can make an appointment by calling 717-233-1681. And try to remember this too shall pass!!