Dear Parents and Families,
We are all currently navigating unchartered territory that the majority of us have never experienced in our lifetimes. Our daily routines and life as we have known it has been disrupted. Spread of the coronavirus has dominated our social media and the news. We are faced with the fears that we may contract the virus as well as our own economic changes. It can be anxiety provoking to worry about our health, our finances, and to deal with the changes that are occurring on a daily basis. Please keep in mind, we are in this together! You are not alone in your thoughts, worries, and concerns. It is normal for you to have anxiety about our situation. Anxiety is a normal reaction to danger. This is your bodies’ fight-or-flight response that is triggered when you feel threatened, pressured, or are facing a challenging situation. However; worry and panic will not make any of our problems go away. So what can YOU do to deal with your worry?
To start with, you can follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended guidelines including avoiding unnecessary travel, engage in social distancing, and practicing proper hygiene. These are ways you can control your environment and help your community flatten the curve. We know that anxiety is often exacerbated by feeling a loss of control. Focus on the things that you can control in your environment. You can use this time away from school to spend quality time with your family; play board games, start a puzzle, read a book together, make a meal you’ve always wanted to try, plant a garden, go for a walk together and explore, fly a kite, etc… Create a schedule for learning and fun activities. Have some fun! Distraction and engaging in enjoyable activities can help to keep your mind off your problems and boost your mood! You will also be teaching valuable coping skills to your children through your modeling of these behaviors.
Maintain a schedule/routine as if it was a school day. Continue to wake up in the morning and have routine bedtimes. This will help transition back into regular life. You will soon be receiving class assignments, creating a schedule is important for everyone’s mental health.
Acknowledge your feelings. It is okay to feel what you feel. Encourage a family discussion to allow all family members to talk about how they are feeling during this time. Children and teen react to what they see from adults around them. We all have the right to feel how we feel and often just expressing your feelings can alleviate the pressure of having these feelings. Take time to talk with your children about the facts about COVID-19 in a way that they can understand. Reassure them that they are safe. Let them know that it’s ok to feel upset and share with them how you deal with your own stress so they can learn to cope from you.
Take a break from social media or be proactive and encourage yourself and others to post positive messages. Set a limit of how much time you are spending keeping up with news, i.e. 30 minutes for the day so you can stay up to date. Then spend the rest of your time engaging in more productive activity. To build on this, you can schedule worry time. This means that you will write down your worries and schedule a time that you will address your list. Go through your list and decide which of your worries can lead to productivity. Ask yourself if you can do something today about your list? This activity will help you continue with daily activity and prevent you from being consumed by worry. You can use technology for social interaction. Regular phone and video chatting with close friends and family is important for mental health.
Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs. Research indicates that exercise is known to combat feelings of depression, which can be triggered by social isolation. Work out at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes. You can even do family yoga!
Just because our government and healthcare officials are making plans to be prepared does not mean that the worst-case scenario is going to take place and panic will not improve any situation. What YOU CAN do is put your attention on taking care of yourself and your family by exercising, eating healthy, and spending quality time with your family.
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call:
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-846-8517
- Call your healthcare provider
- If you currently have a mental health provider, remote therapy is an option
If you have any questions about school expectations or navigating this school work at home, please feel free to contact your school counselor.
firstname.lastname@example.org -Kimra Rogers, Alpine Elementary School Counselor
email@example.com - Adrienne Reyes, Alpine Middle School Counselor
firstname.lastname@example.org – Sandra Alvidrez, Alpine High School Counselor
You are not alone. We are in this together! Know that this will end.
Carla Cheatham, M.A., LPC-S