It is on all our minds, every day, all day long, and into the night; no matter what our anything is (faith, belief, creed, race, sexual orientation, gender preference, politics, hunter, 2vegan, funny, not-funny, etc), we all think about what we need to do to keep our families and community safe; it’s who we are, it is in our DNA. Because of our desire to defend our most vulnerable, we have chosen as a community to be partially cooped up and have limited interaction with other people. To an introvert, this hasn’t much changed our routine; we welcome social distancing.
To an extrovert, these past several months have been agonizing and it feels foreign and depressing. In addition, the normal anxieties are complicated by Covid-19 and the new anxieties are daunting (like, we postulate, how much of this is real and how much is media? Are we characters in someone’s dystopian novel?) Building up and up, the worries grow into a wall and loneliness has set in. Because we want to keep our families and communities safe, many of us have errored on the side of caution and just bit the bullet.
Thank you, thank us all for that sacrifice, I mean it; it is annoying and has certainly not been easy, to accomplish what we have in the past several months. Some of the kids I’ve talked with have done fairly well during the intense times of this pandemic and others who couldn’t wait for school to start back up, because they didn’t like to be looked at through the computer camera, found it difficult to self-motivate for assignments, and mostly they missed their friends.
Teachers and parents have become the wearer of many hats and at times, simultaneously; first responders and essential workers are doing an excellent job keeping us safe, sane. Packed between the layers of loneliness, anxiety, and depression are irritability, annoyance, and shame. We can recognize and remain aware that we are all just trying our best.
Here are some thoughts I have on coping with the many different dimensions of stress, loneliness, boredom, anxiety, real fears, amalgamated fears, shame, feeling overwhelmed, and spent.
1. Keep or build a routine and always include special activities, creativity, and snacks or meal.
2. Schedule time daily to allow yourself and family members a space to think about and verbalize what is bleeping wrong with everything that is going on right now and when it comes up during other times of the day, tell yourself you will worry about that during your set aside time.
3. Schedule a time daily to allow yourself and family members to name everything that is going okay or right or not bad.
4. Try a meditation app, like Headspace, Calm, Insight Timer, Aura, Sattva, YogaGlo, Enso, Inscape to name a few.
5. Notice what you see, what you hear; that which you feel and are thinking about and allow yourself to dwell on it; the smells and tastes of your favorite foods; give yourself time to be.
It is important to give yourself and those around you a break. Overall, we really are in this together and even if we are separated by 6 feet or greater, we have all seen the West End community in action and we are people who will have each others’ backs. It is going to continue to be tough for a while more, but it is going to be okay.
Char-el Montana, MA, LMHC, Child Mental Health Specialist