With the current social distancing precautions currently in place everyone is adjusting to a new normal. This means big changes for people of all ages, from preschoolers to grandparents. There is an inherent difficulty in change and changing may bring up big emotions. But the good news is there are things we can do that can maintain or even improve our well-being during this unusual time.
- Spend time outdoors everyday. This may seem so simple or even childish, but it works. Ample research has shown that nature exposure has long term benefits for children. Allowing children to explore outside gives them an opportunity to learn and play using all five senses. For adults, connecting with nature has been shown to improve mental health problems including anxiety and depression. So make it a daily habit to go outside even when the weather isn’t the best. Take a walk, do some yard work, or even drinking some coffee on your deck in the morning is enough to reap the benefits nature has to offer. Give your children the freedom to get wet and stomp in puddles, catch bugs, climb trees or just play tag barefoot in the yard.
- Move your body everyday. Exercise improves your mood by increasing blood flow and releasing hormones that give you a feeling of happiness. Right now there isn't a gym to go to or a 5k to sign up for, but you can still improve your mood and lower your stress level by keeping your body moving. Like I mentioned earlier just taking a walk will help, but there are so many virtual options available inside your home too. Do a quick internet search for yoga or at-home workouts and you will be given millions of options. To get the whole family involved you can take a bike ride or do a dance party having each person take turns picking songs to dance around to.
- Continue connecting with friends and family (virtually). Nothing replaces a real face to face dinner party or an afternoon playdate, but maintaining social connections from a distance will decrease the feeling of loneliness during this time. What’s surprising, is that I have talked with my family and friends more since we started social distancing. Start a group chat with your family to share your worries or successes, chat with your neighbors across the driveway, or have your children write letters to their school friends.
- Express gratitude and be forgiving of yourself. Allow yourself the chance to grieve all the important events that have changed or been canceled during this time. Imagine being a high school senior and losing all the big graduation memories, a parent trying to teach their children while working from home or a new mother who wants to share her baby with the family but can’t just yet. Feeling sad or anxious is normal during big changes. Try journaling your thoughts, talking with a friend or finding small things to be grateful for right now. Identifying and expressing gratitude has been linked with positive well-being.
Soon we will start gathering again and returning to jobs. We may make changes to our job or routine or lifestyle because we experienced a global pandemic. We will be excited for that first date night out or kids sleepover. We will never again take for granted a friendly hug or a playground full of loud children again. We are in this together and we got this.
Layla Habibi Olberding
Gym and Learn Teacher