Three words that I am sure you have heard over these past few weeks: “Are you okay?”
As I type these words, we are facing a global pandemic. This is unlike anything many of us have ever seen. The days have been scary, unsettling, and full of unknowns. As parents, caregivers, educators, and community members, we have wrestled with the idea of how to keep ourselves and those around us healthy and safe. In the United States, there are many of us who take things for granted, including the fact that we never imagined this would happen to us in the U.S. Unfortunately, the pandemic has arrived on U.S. soil and is not predicted to leave for quite some time. It has thrown us into a terrifying tailspin with no certain end in sight.
Remote learning/e-learning has become the new “normal”. Educators and parents are scrambling to meet the learning needs of our students. There is concern about how to deliver the instruction, assess students’ understanding, support families, and meet the needs of each student. Not to mention the anxiety that takes place during grocery store trips, as it becomes abundantly clear that toilet paper, water, eggs, bleach, sanitizer, and bread are hard to find. People began hearing that they would be out of a job until further notice to help fight the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. This news has left many of us feeling afraid, upset, and anxious. As a result, the ability to meet our most basic needs feels like it's dangling in the air.
There have been several things that have helped me during this time. I have made the decision to focus on “self-care”, but I understand it is hard for people to do this with all the worries around us. The worries bounce around inside our heads as we struggle to find answers to the following questions:
What can I do to keep my family safe?
Will I be able to feed my family?
How will I pay the bills?
How will I focus on helping my children complete their remote learning/e-learning tasks?
How will I make sure that I meet the basic needs of my family?
What will I do if someone I know becomes sick?
How do we focus on self-care when it seems that crisis and chaos is all around us?
These questions can cause lots of anxiety and concern. I decided to take some time to be still and focus on possible solutions, I came up with the following. I wanted to share these in the hopes of giving you some ideas to ponder:
The Basics: I took time to review the basics with my family, including effective handwashing, ways to cover coughs and sneezes, and the importance of healthy eating and wellness choices.
Mindfulness: Whether it is meditation, prayer, or scripture reading, make time to do this each day to focus and center your mind. During this time, try to think of one thing that you are grateful for and use that gratitude as the ray of hope for the day!
Exercise: There are many ways to engage in physical activity whether it’s going outdoors to run, walk, ride a bike, or play catch with your children. You can even do a workout on YouTube.com. Many fitness experts are offering exercise classes online. Some of these courses are being offered for free!
Family Time: Take this time to connect with those you are living with. This is a great time to cook meals together, bake together, take walks, play board games, and in general, create memories together. We live in such a fast-paced world that many times, we are moving so quickly that we forget to intentionally connect with those we love. If you are living alone, try to reach out and connect with someone by phone. I have found that it helps to see your loved ones in a video format. FaceTime®, Google Duo™, Zoom™, or Google Hangout™ are great options to use.
Media Fatigue: Reduce the amount of time spent on social media and watching news outlets. This can cause anxiety and fear as the numbers of those who become ill or who pass away continue to rise.
Remote learning/E-learning: Ask the teacher for help with remote learning/e-learning questions and concerns. Please believe me when I say we are more than happy to assist in any way possible. We miss our students so much and it is so hard not being with them to guide them in their learning.
Meals: There are many school districts and community organizations providing meals for families during this time. Please take advantage of these opportunities to provide additional food for children and families.
Unemployment Benefits - Many people have had to face the loss of jobs. This means their primary stream of income has come to an end. This creates nothing, but stress. Please, please, please don’t hesitate to file for unemployment if you are able to do so. We don’t know how long this pandemic will last so it is important to file for this as another source of income.
Create a daily schedule - I have found this to be very helpful for balancing my state of mind. As information continues to come in from around the world, I have found it important to make sure I set a time for getting up, plan a couple of “activities” in our home, and spend time connecting with family and friends that I cannot see right now.
We know this global pandemic will pass, but things will not be the same. There will be devastating loss of life, uncertain financial ramifications, loss of academic progress, fear of the virus returning, and the question of “What’s next?”. I know these are questions that concern so many of us, but I want us to do one more thing in the wait! Let’s continue to love our neighbors as ourselves by helping when we can, supporting when we can, and giving of our time, talent, and treasure when we can. Practice social distancing no matter how challenging it is. I know that we will come out of this stronger and wiser. We are better together!