Coping with COVID-19

By Amanda Stein | Program Manager, Apraxia Kids

March 26, 2020

 

Well, here we are. We are in a global situation that most of us probably never thought we would see in our lifetime. We are all facing the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, but at least we’re facing it together. These unprecedented times are new to all of us and we’re all finding our own ways to deal with the changes that came with it.

Maybe you’re working from home instead of an office; or maybe you’re out of a job entirely; maybe you’re now the only provider for your family when you used to have more than one income; maybe you’re a science, math, history, art, learning support teacher, and parent all in one now; maybe your financial burdens have become even heavier right now; or maybe your routines didn’t change too much but you’re having a hard time coping with the increased anxiety of today’s climate. 

 

anx·i·e·ty

/aNGˈzīədē/

noun

noun: anxiety; plural noun: anxieties

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

 

No matter how many new hurdles you’re trying to jump over, one thing remains the same for all of us – anxiety. We are all feeling our own anxieties about this uncertain situation and what that means for us individually and as a community. Rest assured that you are not alone in that feeling whatsoever.

Regardless of how worried, stressed, or even scared you might be right now, there are things you can be doing to help ease that anxiety (or at least quiet it’s loud, nagging yell for a short while). So you’re probably asking yourself, “well, what can I do to ease my anxieties then!?” Well, let’s dive in!

Stay Physically Healthy

First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself! Almost everyone has at least one person (or pet!) that relies on them in some way and you can’t be the best caregiver you can be if you don’t start with yourself. 

 

self-care

/ˌselfˈker/

noun

noun: self-care; noun: selfcare

the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

    • the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
      “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

 

The first step in taking care of yourself is to make sure you stay healthy! Follow the CDC’s guidelines on protecting yourself and your loved ones during the pandemic:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your home)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside corner of your elbow
  • Clean and disinfect your house often, including door handles, phones, computers, remotes, sinks, etc.
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others by staying home or wearing a mask if you must leave the house

Stay Mentally Healthy

Self-care isn’t just making sure your body stays healthy – it’s making sure your mind stays healthy, too. Remembering to take care of your mental health, especially during a stressful time like this, can help to improve your mood. A positive mood is contagious so that can go a long way in a worried house! 

 

men·tal health

noun

noun: mental health

a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
“all this pressure seems to be affecting his mental health”

 

Start by taking some time to sit down as a family or call a friend to discuss what a self-care plan might look like for you. Have everyone write out their own self-care plan, even children! This plan could even be as simple as just listing some things you can do when you need a break. Having a predetermined plan for things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed will help you to calm down or relax even quicker. Here are some things to consider when curating your own personalized self-care plan.

 

Stay informed

Knowledge is power, but good knowledge is important. Take a few minutes at the start and/or end of your day to check in on the status of things. Be cautious to use reliable news outlets such as:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

WHO (World Health Organization)

FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)

NIH (National Institutes of Health)

US Department of Health and Human Services 

Your State’s Health Department

 

But also, turn off the news!

Staying informed is important but the 24 hour media cycle can be overwhelming and worsen your anxiety. Make sure to limit your intake and shut the news off.

 

 

Create a schedule

Things may be really hectic in your house right now. The chaos may be calmed by creating and trying to stick to a somewhat typical schedule that you’re used to. Having a routine you and your family can follow can ease some of the anxiety of what each day may hold. Knowing when school, work, breaks, meals, and family time are scheduled can help everyone stay focused in the moment.

 

Stay in touch (virtually, of course!)

Just because you can’t physically be with friends, family, and other loved ones doesn’t mean you can’t still spend time together! Stay in touch by phone, email, or even through video calls. Have grandparents read bedtime stories or help with homework; watch a movie with a friend; have a happy hour or morning coffee with coworkers. Out of sight does not mean out of mind so make a conscious effort to stay in touch with the people you care about. Some ways you can do this may be:

FaceTime (on Apple products)

Google Hangouts

Skype

Netflix Party

Whereby

Zoom

 

Ask for help

You can’t do it all. There. It’s been said. It may be hard to admit that to yourself but you have to let yourself breathe, and you can’t do that if you’re drowning in tasks. Whether you need help with the dishes, school work, creating a schedule, laundry, paying the bills, or finding time to set aside for yourself, you can’t be afraid to ask for help. Do not let these things weigh you down any more than they already do. Take some time to write down a list of things that others may be able to help you with in some way and who can help with those things. Here are some examples:

  • Ask your partner to take on a few of your chores or help the kiddos with their school work.
  • Ask your kiddos to pitch in with household chores, taking care of your pets, or anything else they may be able to help with. 
  • If you’re at risk of falling behind on bills, ask your providers if they have any relief options right now or can delay your due dates.
  • Ask family or friends who may have more flexible schedules to help with things like meal planning, activity planning, or even helping your kids with homework or bedtime stories through a video chat.

 

Ask for support

It’s important to find the right level and type of support that works best for you. Yes, staying in touch with friends, family, and loved ones (read above) is one way to support each other but there are more resources out there to support you in your time of need. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about your mental health, here are some professional, reliable sources to do that:

Talk Space

https://www.talkspace.com/

7 Cups

https://www.7cups.com/

Better Help

https://www.betterhelp.com/

Teen Counseling

https://www.teencounseling.com/

Health Sapiens

https://healthsapiens.com/

CIMHS bliss

https://cimhs.com

 

Practice healthy routines

Yes, washing your hands and practicing social distancing are key in this moment, but here are other ways your body needs healthy routines, too. These healthy practices will not only help your body ward off illnesses but will also boost your mood! Making sure to check as many of these boxes as often as possible will help your health, mood, and focus so you can be in-the-moment for those who need you most:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (or at least try a nap!)
  • Exercise, stretch, and/or take a walk
  • Eat a well balanced diet (I know quarantine snacks are tempting!)
  • Drink plenty water
  • Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air!

 

Find time for YOU time

We’re all spending more time inside our homes with our roommates (partners, kids, grandparents, roommates, pets, invisible co-workers, or dust bunnies under the bed). Finding new and creative ways to spend that time together can be fun or daunting. But one thing is certain – you all still need to find some time for YOU. You need to be allowed to take a break for yourself: to do something you enjoy, to get your own work accomplished uninterrupted, or to just sit in silence by yourself. Whatever you need to take care of you in that moment is okay. Ask for some respite for yourself when you need it. 

 

res·pite

/ˈrespət,rēˈspīt/

noun

a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
“cleaning services can provide some respite from your daily chores

 

 

Set boundaries

If you are working from home, kids are doing school work at home, or you have other scheduling needs that have to be met, make sure to set and follow boundaries. Make sure you actually shut down from work/school to allow time to decompress. If you ask for YOU time, ask that your housemates follow that. Create designated work/school places in the home so you can leave work “at work” at the end of the day. Days can start to bleed into each other without our normal “outside of the house” routines so do your best to mimic your normal boundaries in today’s environment.

 

Relax and have fun!

With all the stressors, anxieties, chores, and unpredictability each day can bring, it’s important to remember that not only is it okay to take a break but it’s encouraged! Take a break by yourself, with your partner, or as a family. Schedule some fun breaks throughout your day to break things up! Here are some things you can do by yourself or as a family:

 

Take a walk in fresh air

Listen to a podcast

Listen to some music

Read a book

Watch a funny video

Dance break!!

Build a pillow fort

Do a few stretches

Doodle something

Write about your thoughts

Play a game on your phone

Go outside

Plant something

Organize a drawer

Play a board game

Work on a puzzle

Host a family talent show

Bake something

Try a new dinner recipe

Have a picnic

Scream into a pillow!!

 

That is not an exhaustive list! Now is a good time to be creative so grab some paper and a pen and write down as many fun things to do that you can think of. Learn a new language? Sure! Or you could put cute hats on your dog and have a pet fashion show. Your choice!

 

MOST IMPORTANTLY: BE KIND!

Above all, be kind to each other AND to yourself. You cannot expect yourself (or others) to follow every house rule, guideline, schedule, etc. Things happen. Days change. Moods spiral. Be kind to yourself. If all you did today was make it through the day, guess what, THAT’S OKAY! You did it! Tomorrow’s another chance to accomplish what you wanted to do today. And if it doesn’t happen then, that’s still okay! You have to be able to forgive yourself (and others) for falling off track because, let’s face it, we’re all dealing with unpredictable disruptions right now. 

 

When something goes wrong in your life, 

just yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on.

 

Also, kindness is contagious so spread a little love around. It actually makes you feel better when you can be the reason someone else smiles that day. Spread the virtual positivity around like wildflowers. Here are some things you can do to share positive messages:

  • Post a funny picture on your social media to remind people to laugh.
  • Send a text or email to someone to let them know they’re doing a great job making it through the day. 
  • Write happy notes or draw pictures on your sidewalk in chalk like “Have a good day!” or “You got this!” or just simply, “Smile!”
  • Reach out to your local medical community (doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police, etc.) and thank them for continuing to serve us in this time of need. Email their info line, call a non-emergency line, message them on social media, or mail them a card. Remind them they’re appreciated!
  • Same for other public servants like: those who deliver your mail, groceries, or food; trash and recycling workers; grocery store staff. Any way you can thank them for continuing to work each day when they’d rather be safe at home may bring a smile to their face.
  • Set yourself alarms on your phone throughout the day with messages of encouragement to remind yourself that you’re doing a great job!

 

Practicing positive self-care is like following the flight attendant’s recommendations: Make sure you put your own on before helping others in an emergency. Self-care is so important right now. Take some time to build a self-care plan for yourself so that you can continue to be the best caregiver you can be. And always remember, it’s okay to not be okay.

 

STAY CALM  * STAY HEALTHY  * STAY HOME

Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19

Your kids may (or may not have!) noticed that something is a little off at home. Maybe they’re not going to school right now. They can’t see their friends. Parents are home more than usual. Something is weird. Maybe you’ve already had this conversation with your kids or maybe they’re asking some hard questions you can’t answer. It’s okay to share your uncertainty with them, too. But remember that calmness often starts with you so if you are in a good place, your kids will see that and your kids will stay calm, too. Hopefully, you’re now self-care ready to tackle whatever comes your way. Here are some extra resources specifically designed to help you have these conversations with your kids. 

 

Talking to Children about COVID-19

By National Association of School Psychologists 

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-(coronavirus)-a-parent-resource

 

Helping Children Cope with Emergencies

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/helping-children-cope.html

 

How to Avoid Passing Anxiety on to Your Kids

By Child Mind Institute

https://childmind.org/article/how-to-avoid-passing-anxiety-on-to-your-kids/

 

How to Change Negative Thinking Patterns

By Child Mind Institute

https://childmind.org/article/how-to-change-negative-thinking-patterns/

 

My Coronavirus Story

By Tobii Dynavox

https://www.flipsnack.com/KeshetChicago/coronavirus-social-story/full-view.html?fbclid=IwAR2qPdQVekbVZ9w3gAlJ2bdp3fhh7RxKIC1uT_8WxrBzXediqG6W9pMovvk

Dealing with Anxiety

You’ve made your plan. You’ve built your schedule. You’ve forgiven yourself for whatever you think went wrong today. But you’re still struggling. That’s okay! We all have these moments – you are not alone in this. Here are some more “high level” ways to deal with your anxiety.

 

Pay attention to how you’re feeling

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to keep spiraling in unhealthy directions. Try to take the time to notice your feelings and pause and reflect before responding to sources of stress or returning to the task at hand.

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
  2. Take a deep breath into your belly and feel your hand rise.
  3. Exhale slowly and gently through your lips.
  4. Repeat two to four times.
  5. Respond to the situation once you’ve calmed yourself.

 

Try some grounding techniques

You can try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and all of those wonderful mental health soothers. But sometimes trying those new things are more stressful than helpful. Grounding is a quick, easy way to bring yourself back to reality and focus on what’s happening right now. It allows you to calm yourself without trying. Here are some simple yet effective grounding techniques you can do anywhere:

 

 

3-3-3 Technique

Take a few deep breaths and answer these questions:

What are 3 things I can see around me right now?

What are 3 things I can hear around me right now?

What are 3 things I can feel in my body right now?

 

 

Harness your senses

Yes, you know what your senses are. But do you know how to use them as a tool for grounding? The key is to focus as much of your attention on the one thing you are seeing or smelling or touching in that moment. Divert your negative energy into being present with your immediate surroundings. Here are some ways you can use your senses to bring you back into the moment and out of your spiralling thoughts. 

Sight

Take a mental inventory of your environment

Put on your favorite TV show or movie

Play a silly game on your phone

Count things around you

Sound

Listen to your favorite song (on repeat!)

Say out loud what you see, hear, feel, etc.

Talk to a loved one

Listen to sounds of nature (or go outside)

Smell

Light your favorite candle

Take a breath of fresh air outside

Cook your favorite meal that fills the house with smells

Taste

Eat that favorite meal you just made!

Chew a piece of gum or candy

Have a soothing cup of tea or glass of cold water

Touch

Take a hot shower or bath

Hug a loved one

Snuggle a pet or cozy pillow

Run your hands over a soothing texture in your home

 

Cognitive Awareness

Try to re-orient yourself in your surroundings by asking yourself some of these questions:

Where am I?

What is the day and date today?

How old am I?

What season is it?

Who is in my home with me today?

 

Expand on your brain breaks

You have a list of things you can do during the day to take a break, but when things get rough or just feel off, try expanding on those things and making them into a larger activity to help you decompress.

  • Cook a nice meal (try pairing with an appetizer or a fancy dessert)
  • Watch a nature documentary (it’s like a field trip from your couch!)
  • Create a safe space for relaxation (find a corner of your home that you can make quiet and relaxing that anyone can go to when they need their own time out)
  • Journal about your thoughts (document this crazy experience)
  • Plan a trip for the future (vacation planning is always exciting!)
  • Practice your meditation or grounding skills

 

Say no

It’s okay to say no to things. Remember that you can’t do it all so allow yourself to say no to things that either aren’t that important right now or things that you can’t give the appropriate attention to. If your kids want to play a game while you’re focused on work, it’s okay to say “Not right now, let’s play after work.” If someone needs you to take on another task at work and you mentally cannot tackle it, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure I can accomplish that right now.” If you tell yourself you want to clean the entire house and organize that crazy closet that’s been haunting you, it’s okay to say “Not today, Amanda. Today you do nothing.”

 

Let go of perfectionism

Have you ever been on Pinterest or Instagram and just been bombarded by influencers’ perfect ways they portray their quarantine activities, work spaces, school activities, etc.? I know I have. It’s wonderful if that makes them happy while staying safe but let’s be honest: the average person/family does not have the time, energy, or funds to do some of those things. Guess what – if your day isn’t looking like an Instagram post of perfection, THAT’S OKAY! It’s perfectly okay to be imperfect. 

 

Reassess your priorities

You created a schedule but today just isn’t going as planned. Scrap it. Regroup. Start over. What feels important to you and/or your family to accomplish today? Is today’s priority just being together as a family; catching up on some virtual learning; tackling some speech therapy activities; cleaning something; taking some you time; or hiding in the closet with your favorite snack or drink. Try starting each day by asking yourself “What means the most to me and my family right now?” and starting your day from there. 

 

“Do what you can,   with what you’ve got,   with where you are.” 

– Theodore Roosevelt

Crisis Helplines & Hotlines

If all else fails, there’s still support available. No matter how alone you may feel at any time, you’re not. You have the entire world behind you cheering you on because we’re all going through this crazy time together. But if you need immediate support in a crisis situation, do not hesitate to reach out to professionals at any time.

 

Disaster Distress Helpline

1-800-985-5990

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

 

YouthLine

1-877-968-8491

Text TEEN2TEEN to 839863

Teens are available to help daily from 4-10pm Pacific Time (adults are available by phone at all other times). YouthLine is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Contact them with anything that may be bothering you. No problem is too big or too small for the YouthLine!

 

Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741

https://www.crisistextline.org/

Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. All of Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Counselors are volunteers, donating their time to helping people in crisis.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233

Highly-trained advocates are available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.

 

Veteran’s Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255

Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves.

Additional Resources and Articles

Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/responders.asp

 

Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/index.asp

 

Managing Anxiety & Stress

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

 

Taking Care of Your Emotional Health

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/selfcare.asp

 

Get Your Home Ready

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html

 

Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty

By American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

https://afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-uncertainty/?fbclid=IwAR22bV9_0Lb_tRc765I-Kf-fP6t9ZMixTgFFdCccyB3JVLST_oMxDoB_W1Y

 

COVID-19 Information and Resources

By National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf

 

Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak

By World Health Organization (WHO)

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8

 

Mental Health and COVID-19: Information and Resources

By Mental Health America

https://mhanational.org/covid19

 

Managing Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Outbreak

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_managing_stress.asp

 

For Providers and Community Leaders: Helping People Manage Stress

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_providers_comm_leaders.asp

 

Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_healthcare_workers.asp

Summary

You just read so much information. Let’s recap:

  • It’s okay to not be okay
  • It’s okay if each day doesn’t go perfectly
  • It’s okay to need help
  • Tackle each day as best you can 
  • Do what feels right for you
  • We’ll all get through this together

That’s it. There is no right or wrong way to handle this unprecedented time because it’s new to everyone. Do the best with what you have and make time to care for yourself. 

All of us staff here at Apraxia Kids are still working to serve you and the apraxia community to the best of our abilities, even if we aren’t physically in the office. Stay in touch with us through our Facebook community. Join our Facebook Live chats. Ask the community some questions. Support a stranger. Or share what’s been working for you during these times. Keep in touch with the apraxia community – we’re all still here for you.

Apraxia Kids Facebook Support Groups

https://www.apraxia-kids.org/how-to-help/support-groups-2/

 

When in doubt, look at cute animal pictures. 

That makes everything better!

By Amanda Stein | Program Manager, Apraxia Kids

March 26, 2020

 

Well, here we are. We are in a global situation that most of us probably never thought we would see in our lifetime. We are all facing the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, but at least we’re facing it together. These unprecedented times are new to all of us and we’re all finding our own ways to deal with the changes that came with it.

Maybe you’re working from home instead of an office; or maybe you’re out of a job entirely; maybe you’re now the only provider for your family when you used to have more than one income; maybe you’re a science, math, history, art, learning support teacher, and parent all in one now; maybe your financial burdens have become even heavier right now; or maybe your routines didn’t change too much but you’re having a hard time coping with the increased anxiety of today’s climate. 

 

anx·i·e·ty

/aNGˈzīədē/

noun

noun: anxiety; plural noun: anxieties

a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.

 

No matter how many new hurdles you’re trying to jump over, one thing remains the same for all of us – anxiety. We are all feeling our own anxieties about this uncertain situation and what that means for us individually and as a community. Rest assured that you are not alone in that feeling whatsoever.

Regardless of how worried, stressed, or even scared you might be right now, there are things you can be doing to help ease that anxiety (or at least quiet it’s loud, nagging yell for a short while). So you’re probably asking yourself, “well, what can I do to ease my anxieties then!?” Well, let’s dive in!

Stay Physically Healthy

First and foremost, you need to take care of yourself! Almost everyone has at least one person (or pet!) that relies on them in some way and you can’t be the best caregiver you can be if you don’t start with yourself. 

 

self-care

/ˌselfˈker/

noun

noun: self-care; noun: selfcare

the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.

    • the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.
      “expressing oneself is an essential form of self-care”

 

The first step in taking care of yourself is to make sure you stay healthy! Follow the CDC’s guidelines on protecting yourself and your loved ones during the pandemic:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and often
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • Practice social distancing (stay at least 6 feet away from people outside of your home)
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside corner of your elbow
  • Clean and disinfect your house often, including door handles, phones, computers, remotes, sinks, etc.
  • If you are sick, avoid contact with others by staying home or wearing a mask if you must leave the house

Stay Mentally Healthy

Self-care isn’t just making sure your body stays healthy – it’s making sure your mind stays healthy, too. Remembering to take care of your mental health, especially during a stressful time like this, can help to improve your mood. A positive mood is contagious so that can go a long way in a worried house! 

 

men·tal health

noun

noun: mental health

a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.
“all this pressure seems to be affecting his mental health”

 

Start by taking some time to sit down as a family or call a friend to discuss what a self-care plan might look like for you. Have everyone write out their own self-care plan, even children! This plan could even be as simple as just listing some things you can do when you need a break. Having a predetermined plan for things you can do when you’re feeling overwhelmed will help you to calm down or relax even quicker. Here are some things to consider when curating your own personalized self-care plan.

 

Stay informed

Knowledge is power, but good knowledge is important. Take a few minutes at the start and/or end of your day to check in on the status of things. Be cautious to use reliable news outlets such as:

CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

WHO (World Health Organization)

FDA (US Food and Drug Administration)

NIH (National Institutes of Health)

US Department of Health and Human Services 

Your State’s Health Department

 

But also, turn off the news!

Staying informed is important but the 24 hour media cycle can be overwhelming and worsen your anxiety. Make sure to limit your intake and shut the news off.

 

 

Create a schedule

Things may be really hectic in your house right now. The chaos may be calmed by creating and trying to stick to a somewhat typical schedule that you’re used to. Having a routine you and your family can follow can ease some of the anxiety of what each day may hold. Knowing when school, work, breaks, meals, and family time are scheduled can help everyone stay focused in the moment.

 

Stay in touch (virtually, of course!)

Just because you can’t physically be with friends, family, and other loved ones doesn’t mean you can’t still spend time together! Stay in touch by phone, email, or even through video calls. Have grandparents read bedtime stories or help with homework; watch a movie with a friend; have a happy hour or morning coffee with coworkers. Out of sight does not mean out of mind so make a conscious effort to stay in touch with the people you care about. Some ways you can do this may be:

FaceTime (on Apple products)

Google Hangouts

Skype

Netflix Party

Whereby

Zoom

 

Ask for help

You can’t do it all. There. It’s been said. It may be hard to admit that to yourself but you have to let yourself breathe, and you can’t do that if you’re drowning in tasks. Whether you need help with the dishes, school work, creating a schedule, laundry, paying the bills, or finding time to set aside for yourself, you can’t be afraid to ask for help. Do not let these things weigh you down any more than they already do. Take some time to write down a list of things that others may be able to help you with in some way and who can help with those things. Here are some examples:

  • Ask your partner to take on a few of your chores or help the kiddos with their school work.
  • Ask your kiddos to pitch in with household chores, taking care of your pets, or anything else they may be able to help with. 
  • If you’re at risk of falling behind on bills, ask your providers if they have any relief options right now or can delay your due dates.
  • Ask family or friends who may have more flexible schedules to help with things like meal planning, activity planning, or even helping your kids with homework or bedtime stories through a video chat.

 

Ask for support

It’s important to find the right level and type of support that works best for you. Yes, staying in touch with friends, family, and loved ones (read above) is one way to support each other but there are more resources out there to support you in your time of need. If you feel like you need to talk to someone about your mental health, here are some professional, reliable sources to do that:

Talk Space

https://www.talkspace.com/

7 Cups

https://www.7cups.com/

Better Help

https://www.betterhelp.com/

Teen Counseling

https://www.teencounseling.com/

Health Sapiens

https://healthsapiens.com/

CIMHS bliss

https://cimhs.com

 

Practice healthy routines

Yes, washing your hands and practicing social distancing are key in this moment, but here are other ways your body needs healthy routines, too. These healthy practices will not only help your body ward off illnesses but will also boost your mood! Making sure to check as many of these boxes as often as possible will help your health, mood, and focus so you can be in-the-moment for those who need you most:

  • Get a good night’s sleep (or at least try a nap!)
  • Exercise, stretch, and/or take a walk
  • Eat a well balanced diet (I know quarantine snacks are tempting!)
  • Drink plenty water
  • Enjoy the sunshine and fresh air!

 

Find time for YOU time

We’re all spending more time inside our homes with our roommates (partners, kids, grandparents, roommates, pets, invisible co-workers, or dust bunnies under the bed). Finding new and creative ways to spend that time together can be fun or daunting. But one thing is certain – you all still need to find some time for YOU. You need to be allowed to take a break for yourself: to do something you enjoy, to get your own work accomplished uninterrupted, or to just sit in silence by yourself. Whatever you need to take care of you in that moment is okay. Ask for some respite for yourself when you need it. 

 

res·pite

/ˈrespət,rēˈspīt/

noun

a short period of rest or relief from something difficult or unpleasant.
“cleaning services can provide some respite from your daily chores

 

 

Set boundaries

If you are working from home, kids are doing school work at home, or you have other scheduling needs that have to be met, make sure to set and follow boundaries. Make sure you actually shut down from work/school to allow time to decompress. If you ask for YOU time, ask that your housemates follow that. Create designated work/school places in the home so you can leave work “at work” at the end of the day. Days can start to bleed into each other without our normal “outside of the house” routines so do your best to mimic your normal boundaries in today’s environment.

 

Relax and have fun!

With all the stressors, anxieties, chores, and unpredictability each day can bring, it’s important to remember that not only is it okay to take a break but it’s encouraged! Take a break by yourself, with your partner, or as a family. Schedule some fun breaks throughout your day to break things up! Here are some things you can do by yourself or as a family:

 

Take a walk in fresh air

Listen to a podcast

Listen to some music

Read a book

Watch a funny video

Dance break!!

Build a pillow fort

Do a few stretches

Doodle something

Write about your thoughts

Play a game on your phone

Go outside

Plant something

Organize a drawer

Play a board game

Work on a puzzle

Host a family talent show

Bake something

Try a new dinner recipe

Have a picnic

Scream into a pillow!!

 

That is not an exhaustive list! Now is a good time to be creative so grab some paper and a pen and write down as many fun things to do that you can think of. Learn a new language? Sure! Or you could put cute hats on your dog and have a pet fashion show. Your choice!

 

MOST IMPORTANTLY: BE KIND!

Above all, be kind to each other AND to yourself. You cannot expect yourself (or others) to follow every house rule, guideline, schedule, etc. Things happen. Days change. Moods spiral. Be kind to yourself. If all you did today was make it through the day, guess what, THAT’S OKAY! You did it! Tomorrow’s another chance to accomplish what you wanted to do today. And if it doesn’t happen then, that’s still okay! You have to be able to forgive yourself (and others) for falling off track because, let’s face it, we’re all dealing with unpredictable disruptions right now. 

 

When something goes wrong in your life, 

just yell “PLOT TWIST!” and move on.

 

Also, kindness is contagious so spread a little love around. It actually makes you feel better when you can be the reason someone else smiles that day. Spread the virtual positivity around like wildflowers. Here are some things you can do to share positive messages:

  • Post a funny picture on your social media to remind people to laugh.
  • Send a text or email to someone to let them know they’re doing a great job making it through the day. 
  • Write happy notes or draw pictures on your sidewalk in chalk like “Have a good day!” or “You got this!” or just simply, “Smile!”
  • Reach out to your local medical community (doctors, nurses, fire fighters, police, etc.) and thank them for continuing to serve us in this time of need. Email their info line, call a non-emergency line, message them on social media, or mail them a card. Remind them they’re appreciated!
  • Same for other public servants like: those who deliver your mail, groceries, or food; trash and recycling workers; grocery store staff. Any way you can thank them for continuing to work each day when they’d rather be safe at home may bring a smile to their face.
  • Set yourself alarms on your phone throughout the day with messages of encouragement to remind yourself that you’re doing a great job!

 

Practicing positive self-care is like following the flight attendant’s recommendations: Make sure you put your own on before helping others in an emergency. Self-care is so important right now. Take some time to build a self-care plan for yourself so that you can continue to be the best caregiver you can be. And always remember, it’s okay to not be okay.

 

STAY CALM  * STAY HEALTHY  * STAY HOME

Talking to Your Kids About COVID-19

Your kids may (or may not have!) noticed that something is a little off at home. Maybe they’re not going to school right now. They can’t see their friends. Parents are home more than usual. Something is weird. Maybe you’ve already had this conversation with your kids or maybe they’re asking some hard questions you can’t answer. It’s okay to share your uncertainty with them, too. But remember that calmness often starts with you so if you are in a good place, your kids will see that and your kids will stay calm, too. Hopefully, you’re now self-care ready to tackle whatever comes your way. Here are some extra resources specifically designed to help you have these conversations with your kids. 

 

Talking to Children about COVID-19

By National Association of School Psychologists 

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources-and-podcasts/school-climate-safety-and-crisis/health-crisis-resources/talking-to-children-about-covid-19-(coronavirus)-a-parent-resource

 

Helping Children Cope with Emergencies

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

https://www.cdc.gov/childrenindisasters/helping-children-cope.html

 

How to Avoid Passing Anxiety on to Your Kids

By Child Mind Institute

https://childmind.org/article/how-to-avoid-passing-anxiety-on-to-your-kids/

 

How to Change Negative Thinking Patterns

By Child Mind Institute

https://childmind.org/article/how-to-change-negative-thinking-patterns/

 

My Coronavirus Story

By Tobii Dynavox

https://www.flipsnack.com/KeshetChicago/coronavirus-social-story/full-view.html?fbclid=IwAR2qPdQVekbVZ9w3gAlJ2bdp3fhh7RxKIC1uT_8WxrBzXediqG6W9pMovvk

Dealing with Anxiety

You’ve made your plan. You’ve built your schedule. You’ve forgiven yourself for whatever you think went wrong today. But you’re still struggling. That’s okay! We all have these moments – you are not alone in this. Here are some more “high level” ways to deal with your anxiety.

 

Pay attention to how you’re feeling

When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to keep spiraling in unhealthy directions. Try to take the time to notice your feelings and pause and reflect before responding to sources of stress or returning to the task at hand.

  1. Place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
  2. Take a deep breath into your belly and feel your hand rise.
  3. Exhale slowly and gently through your lips.
  4. Repeat two to four times.
  5. Respond to the situation once you’ve calmed yourself.

 

Try some grounding techniques

You can try meditation, yoga, deep breathing, and all of those wonderful mental health soothers. But sometimes trying those new things are more stressful than helpful. Grounding is a quick, easy way to bring yourself back to reality and focus on what’s happening right now. It allows you to calm yourself without trying. Here are some simple yet effective grounding techniques you can do anywhere:

 

 

3-3-3 Technique

Take a few deep breaths and answer these questions:

What are 3 things I can see around me right now?

What are 3 things I can hear around me right now?

What are 3 things I can feel in my body right now?

 

 

Harness your senses

Yes, you know what your senses are. But do you know how to use them as a tool for grounding? The key is to focus as much of your attention on the one thing you are seeing or smelling or touching in that moment. Divert your negative energy into being present with your immediate surroundings. Here are some ways you can use your senses to bring you back into the moment and out of your spiralling thoughts. 

Sight

Take a mental inventory of your environment

Put on your favorite TV show or movie

Play a silly game on your phone

Count things around you

Sound

Listen to your favorite song (on repeat!)

Say out loud what you see, hear, feel, etc.

Talk to a loved one

Listen to sounds of nature (or go outside)

Smell

Light your favorite candle

Take a breath of fresh air outside

Cook your favorite meal that fills the house with smells

Taste

Eat that favorite meal you just made!

Chew a piece of gum or candy

Have a soothing cup of tea or glass of cold water

Touch

Take a hot shower or bath

Hug a loved one

Snuggle a pet or cozy pillow

Run your hands over a soothing texture in your home

 

Cognitive Awareness

Try to re-orient yourself in your surroundings by asking yourself some of these questions:

Where am I?

What is the day and date today?

How old am I?

What season is it?

Who is in my home with me today?

 

Expand on your brain breaks

You have a list of things you can do during the day to take a break, but when things get rough or just feel off, try expanding on those things and making them into a larger activity to help you decompress.

  • Cook a nice meal (try pairing with an appetizer or a fancy dessert)
  • Watch a nature documentary (it’s like a field trip from your couch!)
  • Create a safe space for relaxation (find a corner of your home that you can make quiet and relaxing that anyone can go to when they need their own time out)
  • Journal about your thoughts (document this crazy experience)
  • Plan a trip for the future (vacation planning is always exciting!)
  • Practice your meditation or grounding skills

 

Say no

It’s okay to say no to things. Remember that you can’t do it all so allow yourself to say no to things that either aren’t that important right now or things that you can’t give the appropriate attention to. If your kids want to play a game while you’re focused on work, it’s okay to say “Not right now, let’s play after work.” If someone needs you to take on another task at work and you mentally cannot tackle it, it’s okay to say “I’m not sure I can accomplish that right now.” If you tell yourself you want to clean the entire house and organize that crazy closet that’s been haunting you, it’s okay to say “Not today, Amanda. Today you do nothing.”

 

Let go of perfectionism

Have you ever been on Pinterest or Instagram and just been bombarded by influencers’ perfect ways they portray their quarantine activities, work spaces, school activities, etc.? I know I have. It’s wonderful if that makes them happy while staying safe but let’s be honest: the average person/family does not have the time, energy, or funds to do some of those things. Guess what – if your day isn’t looking like an Instagram post of perfection, THAT’S OKAY! It’s perfectly okay to be imperfect. 

 

Reassess your priorities

You created a schedule but today just isn’t going as planned. Scrap it. Regroup. Start over. What feels important to you and/or your family to accomplish today? Is today’s priority just being together as a family; catching up on some virtual learning; tackling some speech therapy activities; cleaning something; taking some you time; or hiding in the closet with your favorite snack or drink. Try starting each day by asking yourself “What means the most to me and my family right now?” and starting your day from there. 

 

“Do what you can,   with what you’ve got,   with where you are.” 

– Theodore Roosevelt

Crisis Helplines & Hotlines

If all else fails, there’s still support available. No matter how alone you may feel at any time, you’re not. You have the entire world behind you cheering you on because we’re all going through this crazy time together. But if you need immediate support in a crisis situation, do not hesitate to reach out to professionals at any time.

 

Disaster Distress Helpline

1-800-985-5990

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters.

 

YouthLine

1-877-968-8491

Text TEEN2TEEN to 839863

Teens are available to help daily from 4-10pm Pacific Time (adults are available by phone at all other times). YouthLine is a free, confidential teen-to-teen crisis and help line. Contact them with anything that may be bothering you. No problem is too big or too small for the YouthLine!

 

Crisis Text Line

Text HOME to 741741

https://www.crisistextline.org/

Every texter is connected with a Crisis Counselor, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem solving. All of Crisis Text Line’s Crisis Counselors are volunteers, donating their time to helping people in crisis.

 

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233

Highly-trained advocates are available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.

 

Veteran’s Crisis Line

1-800-273-8255

Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves.

Additional Resources and Articles

Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/responders.asp

 

Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/index.asp

 

Managing Anxiety & Stress

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

 

Taking Care of Your Emotional Health

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://emergency.cdc.gov/coping/selfcare.asp

 

Get Your Home Ready

By Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/get-your-household-ready-for-COVID-19.html

 

Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty

By American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

https://afsp.org/taking-care-of-your-mental-health-in-the-face-of-uncertainty/?fbclid=IwAR22bV9_0Lb_tRc765I-Kf-fP6t9ZMixTgFFdCccyB3JVLST_oMxDoB_W1Y

 

COVID-19 Information and Resources

By National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

https://www.nami.org/getattachment/About-NAMI/NAMI-News/2020/NAMI-Updates-on-the-Coronavirus/COVID-19-Updated-Guide-1.pdf

 

Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During COVID-19 Outbreak

By World Health Organization (WHO)

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf?sfvrsn=6d3578af_8

 

Mental Health and COVID-19: Information and Resources

By Mental Health America

https://mhanational.org/covid19

 

Managing Stress Associated with the COVID-19 Outbreak

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_managing_stress.asp

 

For Providers and Community Leaders: Helping People Manage Stress

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_providers_comm_leaders.asp

 

Managing Healthcare Workers’ Stress

By US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Center for PTSD

https://www.ptsd.va.gov/covid/COVID_healthcare_workers.asp

Summary

You just read so much information. Let’s recap:

  • It’s okay to not be okay
  • It’s okay if each day doesn’t go perfectly
  • It’s okay to need help
  • Tackle each day as best you can 
  • Do what feels right for you
  • We’ll all get through this together

That’s it. There is no right or wrong way to handle this unprecedented time because it’s new to everyone. Do the best with what you have and make time to care for yourself. 

All of us staff here at Apraxia Kids are still working to serve you and the apraxia community to the best of our abilities, even if we aren’t physically in the office. Stay in touch with us through our Facebook community. Join our Facebook Live chats. Ask the community some questions. Support a stranger. Or share what’s been working for you during these times. Keep in touch with the apraxia community – we’re all still here for you.

Apraxia Kids Facebook Support Groups

https://www.apraxia-kids.org/how-to-help/support-groups-2/

 

When in doubt, look at cute animal pictures. 

That makes everything better!



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