As the CDC
recognizes, “fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.” We have outlined some suggestions on ways that parents can utilize the CDC’s mental health recommendations to care for themselves and their families.
The phrase that anyone who has flown on an airplane before will recognize is ‘put on your oxygen mask first.’ The understanding here is that we cannot help others unless we help ourselves first. Our recent article on How to Support your Child’s Mental Health
focuses on how parents can create routines and use tools to help their children navigate the stresses of COVID-19. This article focuses on ways parents can create self-care routines while in quarantine to nurture their own mental health.
For those who must live in quarantine or isolation , depression, anger, and confusion are all potential side-effects
due to the stigma of COVID-19 and the loss of connection with others.
The American Heart Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of movement per week, which is around 21 minutes per day. Movement or exercise can be spread out over the week and even spread out during the day. You can start with a socially distant walk in a quiet part of town (if you aren’t on a complete lockdown) or get creative using items around your house as weights for an at-home workout. Starting a dance party every day with your kids is also a great way to increase your heart rate and guarantee a few extra smiles.
Apps like Down Dog Yoga
, and many fitness studios
continue to release free at-home workouts, yoga classes, and other tools to encourage people to get active in their houses.
From your phone to the radio in your car, it can feel impossible to get away from the constant media stream intensifying the severity and world-wide impact of COVID-19. Create boundaries that allow you to stay informed without feeling overwhelmed by limiting your time watching the news or scrolling on social media. Focus on getting your information from the WHO, CDC, and local health departments and ignoring other click-bait articles that are published without foundation.
Boundaries in this way can also mean stopping conversations from family or friends who only want to discuss the pandemic. Offer alternate topics of discussion or tell them a good-news story that you recently heard.
Dr. Maphis from Geisinger Medical Center
shared that “five minutes of meditation each day can help you reset your mind and your perspective.” Mindfulness app HeadSpace
has created additional free resources to help guide parents through stress.
If meditation isn’t your thing, taking 5-10 minutes to read a book, drink tea in a quiet space, doing a breathing exercise, taking a bath or relaxing shower, or calling an old friend can have the same effects.
Staying indoors doesn’t mean that your friendships and relationships need to come to a halt. Call, text, and video chat with the people you love regularly to keep in touch. Some ideas
include creating virtual hangouts to play a game
, having a virtual happy hour, starting a weekly book club, or watching a movie
can also be fun.
Having some extra time at home is also an excellent opportunity to send birthday cards or leave cookies on your neighbor’s doorstep.
More Self-Care Ideas for Parents
For additional ideas, check out this list from the Program for Early Parent Support
and another from Psychology Today