Thoughts and Advice about the COVID-19 Pandemic from Your Friendly Neighborhood Therapists
- March 20, 2020
- Written by Kent Toussaint
Dear Families of Teen Therapy Center and Child & Teen Counseling,
Information about COVID-19 is changing daily, and I've been spending a lot of time thinking about how this is affecting our society, both long term and in the immediate future. Many parents are wondering what they can do to help their kids not go crazy while they're home from school. Now that it has been a week since the dreaded closures, plus the new "Safer at Home" order, many parents are wondering, "How long is this going to last? And how am *I* going to last?!"
Blog #97: Thoughts and Advice about the COVID-19 Pandemic from Your Friendly Neighborhood Therapists
Some parents are finding out now, more than ever, the importance of keeping up with their therapy schedule. In this time of uncertainty and change, heightened anxiety might lead to big, unmanageable emotions. Due to major life events being cancelled (birthday parties, weddings, attending places of worship) there might be an overwhelming sense of sadness or worry because we feel we are "missing out." Financial woes are rearing up, and there is no template to help us predict how this is going to affect our communities. How can we plan for something so unknown? This seems a little bigger than that "rainy day" that we were always told to prepare for. Usually, in times of change and uncertainty, I suggest keeping up with as much routine as you can. And this pandemic is the MOTHER of change and uncertainty!!!
Here are some things to think about during your forced "stay-cation"!
- Encourage everyone to get dressed for the day, which also means keeping up with regular hygiene practices. In other words, avoid staying in your pajamas all day!
- Eating regular meals at "normal" times may help mitigate fluctuating moods.
- Doing a little bit of schoolwork is great for returning to something that is known. However, be sure not to try to recreate a full school day into your seemingly endless day.
While a sense of normality is important, this is also a great time to put a little spice into your daily stuck-at-home life.
Here are some ways to turn this situation in to a positive one:
- Try playing a new game! Go old school and break out Monopoly. Heck! You now have time to collect all those hotels. Don't want to play a "money game?" How about a good game of chess or Risk or Clue? Your kids will really enjoy being able to spend an extended amount of time with you if it's not filled with telling them what to do and how to do it. Just play! Just be there for them. Relish in their laughter as you try your hand at Pictionary.
- If your kid can’t stand the risk of losing, try a cooperative board game where you all team up against the game. Games like Race to the Treasure, Castle Panic and the very apropos board game…PANDEMIC!
- Now is a great time to learn a new hobby. Either a hobby you can do together or help your child get started on something they've always wanted to try.
- Reaching out to your community and finding out who needs help getting supplies is a wonderful way to feel purposeful and good about one’s self. You may never have known about your elderly neighbors or someone who is physically impaired before now, and it's important to understand that not everyone has family or friends around to help. Here’s how to do it:
- Encourage your kids to write a note to your neighbors letting them know that they can call you if they need supplies. (Receiving a handmade picture or card are instant up-lifters!)
- Then take a walk around the neighborhood and leave your note on doorsteps. I guarantee you that that will brighten someone's day. It's also important to remember that some members of the senior community could be frozen with fear and might be paralyzed by any misinformation that they are receiving, or perhaps feel that they don't want to burden anyone. You never know how your little note might be just the thing they need!
- With all this time on your hands, you are not obligated to stay indoors. Get some fresh air in the great outdoors, go on a new hike, inflate those bicycle tires, or just sit outside and enjoy the newly arrived spring.
- Remember that social distancing does NOT mean social isolation. You are still allowed to interact with other human beings. Just keep your (6 feet) distance, cover your mouth if you sneeze/cough, and wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds.
Speaking of washing hands....here’s a fun way to connect with your teen!
Ask them what their favorite song is. Commit to learning 20 seconds worth of the lyrics. Commit to singing (loudly) every time you wash your hands. Want to take it a step further? Commit to the lip curl, head bob, or hip shake that will compete your performance. Then you can get back at them by teaching them 20 seconds of your favorite song from the 1980s! Did anyone say, Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?”
As you may already know, many therapy sessions have been successfully happening online through various web platforms. However, even with this Stay at Home order, some of you are asking to come in. That’s still ok. So…
I'd like to address the common questions that I am hearing about coming to in-person sessions at Teen Therapy Center and Child & Teen Counseling.
We are taking this very seriously, and respect everyone's need to stay healthy. We are disinfecting the common area and things like doorknobs and bathroom keys regularly. Even though the virus cannot stay airborne for very long, we also have an air purifier running constantly on its highest setting in the waiting room. Our waiting room is large and sparsely used at any given time due to this crisis. As you know, the therapy rooms are large enough to keep that safe distance of 6 feet if you are wondering about how to maintain the "social distance." You may also ask your therapist if there are earlier times available to come in since most of you are free during the daytime now.
So that everybody understands where therapy sessions fall under the Mayor’s “Safer At Home” order, below is an excerpt which explains how mental health facilities are exempt from the order:
Public Order Under City of Los Angeles Emergency Authority
(vii) Essential Activities Exempt. Certain business operations and activities are exempt from the provisions of this Order, on the grounds that they provide services that are recognized to be critical to the health and well-being of the City. These include:
(a) All healthcare operations, including hospitals, clinics, dentists, pharmacies, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, medical and scientific research, laboratories, healthcare suppliers, home healthcare services providers, veterinary care providers, mental and behavioral health providers, substance use providers, physical therapists and chiropractors, cannabis dispensaries, or any related and/or ancillary healthcare services, manufacturers and suppliers. Healthcare operations does not include fitness and exercise gyms and similar facilities.
Some believe that this pandemic is what was necessary for our society to reset itself. With your family, try to discover how this experience has prompted a much-needed change in your regular life. Let‘s vow not to go back to the disconnect of our former lives once this is all done, but instead remember the positive lessons we are learning now that may enrich our most important relationships.
Contact Us For More InformationIf you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.