I know that these days have many of us feeling unsettled and uneasy. It is not something anyone of us have encountered. This new "normal" may have some feeling lost and unsure. With not being able to currently provide mental health face to face in my clinic in Olds, Alberta it's been hard to offer support. I will be offering mental health counselling ONLINE and via telephone for those in need.
In my counselling world I read this and believe these to be true:
Those with depression: may lose hope, the threat of death of this virus may trigger some to more suicidal thoughts or thoughts of giving up. Those with anxiety: can see other's becoming worried about the real threat of this virus and thus endure more anxiety. Those with OCD: may have increased obsessions related to sanitizing and may be consumed with the news. Those with eating disorders may be triggered with the hoarding of supplies that is occurring locally in our stores. And those with PTSD: the body keeps the score! And every scary threat can trigger an old one. I'd like to help put things in perspective: from a Nurse perspective, a Counsellor perspective and a Parent perspective. The hats I wear helps me, help you and I'd like to take a moment to share. The nurse: First, I hope you consider your sources at all times. Those recommended sources include: Alberta Health Services http://alberta.ca/COVID19 Your Alberta Government Facebook Page-reporting accurate facts World Health Organization Take the recommended precautions that you are being advised to take. Preparing and working through this process will ease your anxiety; knowing you are informed AND prepared. Use consideration and kindness when stocking your home of supplies. Have compassion for those more vulnerable to the spread of this virus. Teaching and modelling hand washing and social distancing, these are ALL within your control. The Counsellor: So much is out of our control right now, whether it be people not staying home when advised, whether people are hoarding and making us angry. Yes, these are the thoughts we are having that lead us to become more emotional. But what do we do when the thoughts are accurate? I teach daily how our IRRATIONAL thoughts can be challenged, but here's the thing folks...when are thoughts are real we "flip our lid" and go into survival--recall fight, flight or freeze? Yup that is what is occurring for us ALL. You see this is just like the grizzly bear or saber tooth tiger caveman faced, it's scary for us all, AND we are all in survival mode.
Coping Skills: Whether you're the parent or the child, it's all the same.
You can regulate your child by remaining calm-think Blue brain!
Remaining calm in the face of your children show's them this will be ok.
They are looking to you right now to guide them in this storm and will take your lead. :)
It feels like a wizard of Oz moment here as I say "you've always had the power my dear". Use your BREATH. Take a breath, deep breathe, drop your shoulders, move your neck and slow your breath.
Keep breathing, at times of stress we tense up and hold our breath. Take a moment.
(My classic teaching is 4sec in, 6sec hold, 8 sec out. Drop the pulse, drop the breathing rate and you will get to calmness).
When our bodies endure stress we produce cortisol and adrenaline which decreases our immune system--which we all need good immunity right now.
Consider lowering your stress and building immunity with healthy habits:
Rest: Be sure you and your family are getting enough sleep these days.
Diet: Nutritious foods are needed more than ever to fuel our bodies.
Exercise: think releasing tension, use this as an outlet, move your body
Nature: the outdoors is not off limits at this time, being in the fresh air will fill your soul.
Hydration: It is important we keep our bodies hydrated with fresh water.
Laughter, Music, Play: It's important we find JOY in small moments throughout our day.
Faith: If you are a spiritual person, now more than ever lean into that faith.
The Parent: Hold your children, connect with them when you can. Whether your a busy parent still working, or have the ability to stay home, it is important we acknowledge and connect.
-Look them in the eye, validate their fears, reassure them we've all got this.
-Give them age appropriate facts and direction in a calm voice.
-Teach them how to combat worry and their thoughts by talking back to the worry bully, squashing it, imagining the thoughts as garbage and throwing them away.
And lastly, from one parent to another:
Let's have compassion for ourselves. Some of us didn't choose home schooling and are feeling like we must now juggle our work lives and homes with taking on extra tasks. Be gentle, be kind to yourself. This isn't easy, heck it's tough and were all here trying to do our best. Our best in our minds may suck, and that's ok! There is no timeline, there is no rush. Let there be chaos, let there be days of peanut butter sandwiches and video games, let there be structure on the days we can put together a google classroom lesson or two. Teach and enjoy the life skills of cooking together, baking, playing board games, watching movies or reruns of hockey games or researching new things (We're learning how Disney theme parks came together-as or Disney trip is on hold).
And above all Breathe...YOU-ME we got this...You are not alone!
Again, Don't hesitate to reach out if you or your child is struggling.
Donna Mirus Registered Nurse, Mental Health Counsellor
Grow Forward Counselling (587)200-7775