Choosing Peace in the Midst of Uncertainty
written by Olivia Kemp, MSW, Pebble Tossers Program Manager
Over the last several days, I have spoken with many people in regards to our current health state with COVID-19. Statements that I continue to hear from friends and family sound like this, “I’ve never experienced a situation like this,” or “I wonder when we will finally be in the clear?” Living in this unknown state that we are in, can not only be anxiety-provoking but isolating. Because of those reasons, it is important to take care of our own mental health during this time while also supporting others in theirs as well.
Up onto this point, the CDC has done a great job providing virus prevention information like washing hands, using hand sanitizer, social distancing, and even routinely disinfecting different surfaces. Without taking these types of measures, we all would be in a much worse state of physical health. A similar process can be considered for our mental health too. Being a social worker, I would love to provide you all with different suggestions that you can implement into your daily lives that keep you mentally strong.
Pebble Tossers’ Mental Health Tips for COVID-19:
As humans, we are wired and created for community with others. The reality of our normal routines that consist of going to school, work, sports, and clubs being postponed can be hard to accept. So how do we fill this gap of connection and belonging in a new way? First, we can set up designated times to check-in with friends or family on the phone each day. We can play board games, set up video chats, start a virtual book club, and even create a craft that can be sent to your friend via mail. By keeping our communication going, but in different ways, it can reduce loneliness and stress.
Watching the news and or logging onto social media accounts daily to see COVID-19 updates can drain our emotional capacity. By creating healthy boundaries, a family or individual can limit their exposure to COVID-19 news and decide how often they will watch TV, be on social media, or even discuss the topic with others. If your children express fear or anxiety around the topic, validate what they are feeling and let them know it is okay to be upset or confused. Share with your child different ways that they can cope and express their emotions during this time. Whether it be through art, exercising, or playing games.
Create a Routine
During this time, many people are either working remotely, not working, and or helping their kids do school work. These new and unfamiliar patterns can bring an additional layer of stress to a family. By itemizing time for different activities for your children, you can help their schedule to become goal-oriented for school and fun during downtime. Challenge yourselves as a family to create food recipes, discover a new hobby, or make a unique craft.
The beauty of self-care is that we need it in every stage or season of our lives to continue healthy patterns. There are several activities and outlooks that we can utilize throughout our days that infuse self-care. For example, any form of exercise gets you moving and increases your endorphin level. You can do indoor exercises or venture out and take a walk in your neighborhood, while still social distancing. Meditation, prayer, and utilizing grounding techniques in this time can also provide a sense of peace. Through grounding techniques, you can establish what is happening presently in the moment by identifying what you see, hear, taste, smell, and touch. This technique is especially helpful when someone crosses into a fear/anxiety response. Self-care can also be as simple as taking a shower, listening to music, journaling, or making yourself some tea. The end goal is to seek rest for yourself as we navigate this season together.
If you or someone you know is having a mental health crisis at this time please call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at 1-800-715-4225 anywhere in the state. A counselor will connect with you via the crisis line and be available to assist you 24/7 and 365 days out of the year.
If you or someone you know is experiencing homelessness or is in need of services like food please call 211 and you will be connected to a representative of United Way Atlanta.