The classroom full of laughter, joking and group time on the carpet has been replaced with news in the background, too many people in the house and the voices of Zoom, Facetime and Skype. The question that arises is how do we keep our mental health in a good place during such a time of uncertainty. Below are some ideas to help stay connected socially while we are physically distanced.
While we are isolated in our homes we still have the ability to connect with our peers, friends and co-workers through video calls like Facetime, Skype and Zoom. While being on the playground isn’t a reality right now; card games, virtually seeing each other and playing video games together is still possible. For children, being able to connect with their peers is going to be extremely important during this time, and thanks to the Internet they will be able to do this. You can brainstorm some topics and questions with your child that might help them connect with their friends over the phone. Things like “What are five things you’ve been able to do during your time at home?” or “Have you played any fun games with your family lately?”
For adults, carving out time to video call with friends will be important for your social and mental health as well. Being able to video call with friends, family members and colleagues is a nice luxury to have in a time of isolation like this. You’re still able to have a Friday night happy hour, make a cheese board and talk about your dish while connecting with friends. When we think about what our previous social time looked like, it is possible to recreate many of those things with our phone propped up or the camera on our laptop facing us.
Creating a schedule
Even though the day doesn’t look like it used to right now, getting into a routine is still important. Waking up when you normally would, taking a shower, eating breakfast and then starting on pre-planned blocks you’ve created for yourself. Maybe a few days a week the dress code at home is pyjamas and that’s ok, but make sure you have some structure around your day. A quick and easy schedule for students might look like this:
- 9am- Wake up, shower and eat breakfast
- 10am- Exercise (could be a walk or some dancing)
- 11am – Academics
- 12:00- Lunch
- 12:30- Chores
- 1:00 – Quiet Time (Puzzles, reading, relaxing)
- 2:00 – Academics
- 3- Outside time
- 5- Dinner
- 6- Free time
The idea is to follow some sort of routine that adds structure and allows your children to get the most out of their day. The same structure can be used for parents, knowing that you still have a routine will help make your days more productive and keep you from spending the entire day watching TV shows.
There is quite a bit of research on how positive exercise is for our mental health. Overcoming the hurdle to start exercise can be tough, but afterwards, we are always left feeling better. Exercise can be walking around your block, riding a bike or doing a workout class on your phone or TV. Even though gyms are not open there still many activities that can get our endorphins flowing and help us to stay healthy and happy.
Limit your social media and news
Being at home and being so dependent on our devices for our connection to the outside world can be a wonderful tool, but there are adverse effects to relying too much on our technology. The balance will be crucial for parents and kids around their social media intake. The news is filled with upsetting numbers about the crisis. Trying to limit the amount of news you listen to as much as possible will open up more time to be productive.
It is important to remember that this isn’t what we’re used to and it’s ok to feel angry, scared, mad, nervous or any range of feelings. We are all learning as we go and remembering to maintain healthy habits will assist in our ability to stay mentally healthy. Will there be some days where you just want to eat ice cream, wear PJ’s and not shower? Sure, but making sure we don’t make that a habit will be what keeps us happy and productive. Remembering that our friends and supporters are still just a phone call away is also important. If you or your child is feeling any negative feelings, have a list of people you can confide in.
Enjoy this gift of time
There is a lot of time in the day and the extra gifts of not commuting, not being in meetings and getting to roll out of bed and right into your office should not be taken for granted. Enjoy the ability to spend more time with your family, learn how to draw a cartoon character or pick up an instrument. There are so many things that we can try now that we are in our homes and making the most of it will be something we look back on and will be grateful for.
You’ve got this!