With the COVID-19 pandemic still requiring people to isolate at home, there has been lots of talk about the detrimental effects this will have on people’s mental health.
Granted, this is quite understandable. Many experts have always warned that prolonged social isolation does have negative consequences on behaviour and emotional regulation.
On the other hand, the threat of spreading the novel coronavirus is very much real. In fact, one can even argue that its very existence is a mental health risk. The unseen and contagious nature of the disease triggers our stress responses and it has even gone as far as gaining its own brand of anxiety.
So, does this mean that emotional regulation is possible at all in this situation?
Actually, it still is.
It is important to remember that, while the effects of COVID-19 have been devastating, there are still avenues for helping families handle the anxiety of the whole situation. Everyone will certainly have to make adjustments but these are not impossible. Here are some suggestions:
1. Learning to do different things together.
There is no doubt that you may have already read about the dozens of family activities you can do at home in response to the crisis. What makes these activities great is that they not only bring the family together, but also serves as a reminder that you won’t be completely by yourself during this period. Having positive, joyful experience even has a boosting effect on your immune system (simply because it reduces the effects of stress on the body).
Social contact is very much achievable when you have family right there. Furthermore, they can also be a good opportunity for parents to gain a better understanding of their children by joining them in activities they like to do. Whether it’s playing a game together, watching a show or even just some indoor exercises, take this chance to really bond with your kids!
2. Take advantage of technology.
Now, while it is certainly important to take a break from screens and gadgets, going for a long time unplugged may also not be recommended during this particular period.
Asides from just potentially cutting yourself off from important news and updates, it can also prevent you from taking advantage of how technology is being used to help people overcome the pandemic’s social distancing challenges.
So while it’s highly advised that you limit technology use (especially for your kids), don’t hesitate to spend a couple hours online to use vital tools like online shopping, checking government websites, and perhaps looking up virtual classrooms if you are worried about some of your needs not being met.
The same goes for browsing to search for essential services like therapy and pediatric care. You can be assured that their providers are still working to make themselves available during this time, and are using technology to help you reach them.
3. Appreciate alone time.
Lastly, another thing to remember is that having a moment just to yourself is also not a bad thing. Because while social interaction is important, it can be exhausting in its own way. After all, a lot of our brain’s emotional regulation mechanisms have always experienced stress from the many social interactions we have in our regular routine.
Rather than worry about spending a lot of time alone, use it as an opportunity to recharge and channel your frustrations. For example, you can consider giving yourself more time to sleep (which is certainly another good way to boost your immune system). There is no need to schedule every minute and every hour with everyone in the house. Getting personal space to breathe in order to process the present situation is just as important for managing how you feel!
So, in short, we need to give ourselves more credit. Because while the COVID-19 situation has been stressful for many of us, our brains are not so simple that they will immediately break down because we spent a day by ourselves at home. Being able to actively manage our emotional responses is not beyond you or your family!
If you need any advice or support, then know that we at the Australian Tomatis Method are still here to help you. Please reach out if you need to, either by email at email@example.com or by phone to Francoise at 0414 444 915.