All of the changes and stresses that we’re facing can be extremely overwhelming.
The longer this crisis goes, the harder it gets to remain motivated. We’ve been hearing parents say things like, “I’m overwhelmed/feeling isolated myself and I don’t have the patience to help my child”.
This is honest, raw and very true for a lot of parents right now.
To help answer this question, we reached out to Iesha Bailey, a therapist for Wasatch Mental Health.
She says, “COVID-19 has caused an increase in overwhelming emotions. People are feeling more worried, more anger, more sadness, more feelings of isolation. This is occurring in both kids and adults. This can make it really difficult for families, especially parents, as they try to take care of themselves and their children.”
If you are feeling this way, you are not alone. And it’s OK that you feel this way. This is very normal, especially while going through a crisis.
Our sense of safety, connection and predictability has been taken away. Adjusting will require time and patience with ourselves and others.
Here are some ideas Iesha suggested:
The goal is to try to make yourself feel as normal as possible. When we can’t connect with others, we don’t feel human. Consider what you would look forward to prior to COVID-19. Maybe it was going to a movie with family/friends or going out to dinner. Although things may look different, it doesn’t mean there can’t be some sense of normalcy. It might look like:
- Scheduling video calls with a friend or family member.
- Going for an evening walk with family.
- Exploring a new hike or park.
- Having your child teach you a hobby they love.
- Having a Zoom movie night
Our days before COVID-19 were usually scheduled out and we had a sense of what our goals were. Not having a schedule is generally not normal. Trying to create that sense of predictability is vital for managing our mental health.
We want to make sure we and the people in our homes are feeling safe. This goes beyond physical safety, but emotional safety as well. Physical safety may be threatened as we face this virus; however, there is little we can do (other than social distance, wash hands, stay home, not touch your face, etc.) to control the environment outside. However, we can control the environment in our home. In order to do that we must first ensure our own emotional safety. This might look like:
- Opening up to a trusted friend or family member about how you’re feeling.
- Seeing a therapist over Telehealth.
- Exercising/do an at-home workout.
- Scheduling time in your day for privacy away from kids, even if it’s just 15 minutes during which no one bothers you (if you have the support to do so).
If you have kids, before COVID-19 you probably had some sort of privacy during the day when kids were at school, playing with friends, or at activities. Now that kids are always at home, there is hardly any time for privacy. It is important to schedule out that time during the day as that was part of your normal routine. This privacy allows self-reflection and the opportunity to address your own feelings.
Self-regulation is a skill that must be practiced. You probably had a sense of the best way to control your emotions before COVID-19. However, the emotional implications of COVID-19 is something we all must adjust to. You may find your old ways of self-regulation are not possible or don’t work anymore. You may need to try different techniques to find what will get you through this time. Practicing self-regulation might look like:
- Learn to do yoga or meditation.
- Mindfulness videos on YouTube.
- Deep breathing.
- Self-care or taking time to get ready and take care of your body every day.
Finding what works best for you may require open-mindedness and effort. When we make self-regulation a priority, we are also teaching our kids to make it a priority. Our children observe and mimic our behavior. If we are stressed, our children most likely will be stressed. When we practice self-regulation of our emotions, we teach our children how to do that as well.
Be OK with not being OK
You may feel like you’re trying everything to get through this time. But, to some extent, we all must be OK with things not being OK. We must accept that things aren’t going to be perfect. And that’s OK. What’s most important is to be patient and kind to ourselves and those around us. Remember that this is just a moment in time that is not going to last forever. All we can do is try our best to meet our own needs and the needs of our family.
Because of COVID-19, you may find that you need additional assistance with affording groceries, making rent or paying utilities. Please dial 2-1-1 from any phone, text your zip code to 898-211, or visit 211utah.org for help. We’re making daily contact with local agencies to give you the most up to date information. (You can also contact 2-1-1 to find out how you can give help!)