Coping During COVID-19: Tips from Lakemary Therapists
*Content contributed by Lakemary PRTF Therapists Keslie Humburg, LPC, AS; Hannah Reed, LCMFT, AS; and Sheila Bevan, LPC, AS
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes in our daily lives and left us feeling stressed, anxious, and even afraid. In these uncertain times, it’s important to stay positive and focus on the things we can control in order to make it through the coming days and months. Our therapists here at Lakemary are experts at helping others overcome challenges and use coping skills to solve problems. They have some tips to share that will help you cope during COVID-19.
The world has experienced pandemics before, but nothing quite like COVID-19. Explaining the virus, the importance of hand washing, social distancing, and more to a child or an individual with special needs can be difficult. Here are some tips to help guide your conversation:
- Use language appropriate for the child or individual.
- Be honest and stick to the facts.
- Provide reassurance that we can stay safe by washing our hands, staying at home, and following suggestions made by doctors, nurses, the CDC, and other reputable health organizations.
- Utilize free online resources such as Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring the New Coronavirus, COVID-19 Information By and For People with Disabilities, and Coronavirus Social Story.
Establishing structure and routine
Daily schedules and routines have been turned upside down for everyone. Schools are closed, kids are remote learning from home, many businesses have shut their doors, and employees that can are working remotely. Here are a few ways you can take control of this transition and bring order back into your life:
Keep a personal schedule
- Outline work hours, lunch breaks, trips out for essential items, social time to connect with family/friends, etc.
Keep a schedule for your entire family
- Make this a family activity! Create a visual schedule together with pictures and provide choices of activities to encourage independence and decision-making skills. Remember to build in structured time for sensory breaks and free time.
Plan stay-at-home activities
- The weather is getting nicer! Explore outdoor activities like a nature scavenger hunt.
- Use free video chat resources to connect with friends and family, play games, enjoy a virtual meal together, watch a movie, and more.
- Make some artwork! Get creative with all the awesome art materials lying around the house.
- Play board games or card games.
- Make your meals special and unique. Have themed dinner nights like comfort food night, breakfast for dinner night, etc.
- Again, explore free resources for ideas!
Coping with stress and anxiety
We know this is a difficult time, and we are all dealing with difficult emotions. Take time to focus on you, your health, and your wellbeing. Don’t put yourself last, and follow these tips:
Be present in the here and now
- It’s so easy to focus on when things will be back to “normal”, and that can be overwhelming. Focus on the little things every day that are positive and within your control.
Take a break for yourself
- Eliminate any distractions and focus on your breathing. This may be difficult if you’ve got little kids running around, so consider adding this to your family schedule!
Do what you enjoy
- Play your favorite music, have an impromptu dance party, and/or coordinate a dance routine.
- Reach out to your loved ones and folks who are your supports. We are all in this together!