Coping in the time of COVID-19
Updated: Feb 2
Q&A with HOPE CEO, Darlene Davis
Q. How can people access mental health resources when there is a shelter in place order in CA?
A. Fortunately we are able to offer what is known as “telehealth” or
“teletherapy”. It is a live video/audio platform where you can meet in a private session with your therapist. This keeps clients and counselors safe and healthy. Telehealth has been utilized for many years. We can also offer therapy over the phone. What could be better than laying on your couch in comfy clothing and talking to your therapist!
Q. What are the biggest challenges your clients are facing while they practice social distancing / quarantine?
A. Clients, or should I say everyone has some type of mental health challenge and social distancing can make these challenges worse. Think about if you are an anxious person and you are on “shelter in place” and all you have for connection is the news that reports all the sickness and death going on in the world. This causes more anxiety and yet you can’t utilize your coping mechanisms such as, exercising, gathering with friends, joining an activity with others. Telehealth can offer new more appropriate coping mechanisms and a connection to someone that can help.
Q. What are some helpful mental health tips that people can try at home while they are in quarantine?
A. We all have to be creative right now. Even though you cannot gather with friends and family you can feel close to them through the same platforms we use for telehealth. Have a “happy hour” gathering via Zoom with your friends. Share a cooking experience with a family member. You can both have a Zoom session while making a recipe together. Another helpful tip is to turn off the news. Sometimes it’s habit to leave the news on in the background not realizing your brain is soaking it all in. Watch it one time a day for any important updates and then turn it off. Lastly make a list of those things you always say you don’t have time for and schedule it in your day just like you scheduled work tasks when you were working all the time! You will have a feeling of accomplishment when you complete the task and you can remind yourself that when the shelter in place is lifted you will definitely not want to do those tasks then, instead you will want to get back out in society and have some fun!
Q. What are some of the common mental health effects you’re seeing from people who are currently experiencing unemployment due to COVID-19? If so, what are they and do you have any recommendations on how to mitigate those effects during these uncertain times?
A. It’s such a hard time right now. This has affected our most basic needs, shelter, food, connection. Many do not have jobs and are waiting for assistance. The bright side that may be possible is that most everyone will have their jobs once we return to normal, we will definitely have a greater sense of gratefulness for those we love, and we may have learned some new skills that allow us to live on a more economical level. With that said it doesn’t necessarily help in the moment but sometimes all we have in the moment is Hope . Sometimes it’s difficult to ask for help but we are all in this together so if you can reach out for help whether it’s emotional support, financial support, or just to be reminded you are not alone, do it!
Q. How important is it for people to go outside and get fresh air every day during these shelter in place restrictions?
A. I’m not a doctor but we all know how important it is to get outside in the sunlight. Our bodies need the Vitamin D! Take a walk somewhere and listen to the birds, look at the beautiful flowers, and remember to practice social distancing even when outside.
Q. Do you have any general parenting tips for parents who are balancing work and childcare at home? What is essential that we teach our kids everyday and what can we let go of?
A. It’s so difficult for parents to now become teachers on top of all the other hats we wear! So first thing is give yourself a break. You didn’t go to school and get a master’s degree so you could be a school teacher! The kids know more than they may admit. They can adapt much faster than adults to change. Let them take on some of the responsibility of guiding the process. Stay connected to your child(s) school for any assistance they can offer. Keep a routine. Help them feel safe and secure through this time of uncertainty. Choose connection and love over academic frustrations!
Q. How can I level out the ups and downs? I am gainfully employed and grateful for the opportunity to work from home, but there are points in the day where I feel overwhelmed with anxiety or “heaviness”. Do you have tips for this? Is this normal?
A. OMG so normal! Many of us are working in a completely different environment than what we are used to and what we enjoy. We no longer stop to talk with an office mate, go to lunch, or share what you had for dinner last night while taking a walk around the office complex. So while working at home take the same time to walk around the block, send an email or call and talk about a recipe. Sit in your dining room and eat your lunch, don’t sit at your computer! Find something on the internet to laugh at. There are so many parody’s right now about the pandemic. Allow yourself to laugh.
Q. I am used to working full time and only being with my child in the morning and during bedtime. This transition to being at home with my child 24/7 is difficult and I am simply not happy being with my family this often. What are your thoughts? How bad is this?
A. Forgive yourself. You cannot be a teacher, a parent, and a working parent 100% all at the same time! Give grace to yourself and to family members. We all default to old coping mechanisms that aren’t necessarily positive during times of stress. One idea is to have a funny code word when you feel you or someone in your family is acting out in a way you or they may regret. This will cause everyone to stop and think and maybe even chuckle.