Dear parents, are you running on empty during this COVID-19 situation?
No, we are not referring to your pantry needs! But rather, your mental wellness.
Your mental well-being is an important aspect to reflect on as we are experiencing unprecedented times, especially with families spending more time at home. While the increased time spent at home fosters family bonding, it can also take a toll because parents may have to juggle between changes in work and caregiving arrangements. With social distancing measures in place, we are increasingly experiencing social isolation. For example, receiving physical support from extended families or close friends may not be as viable anymore. Furthermore, some families may be fraught with financial uncertainties such as retrenchment and pay cuts.
COVID-19 isn’t just a pandemic, but an emotional war against our sense of stability and normalcy. As a result, we may feel more anxious and frustrated than usual daily. However, when these difficult emotions become persistent, recurrent or affect our daily functioning, it can be a cause of concern. Fortunately, despite the restraining nature of our circumstances during this period, we can still practice self-care with some simple coping techniques.
- Recognise what is within your control and what is not
- When we work on situations within our control, it helps us to feel empowered. For example, we can control what we do by planning a fixed daily schedule to keep ourselves meaningfully occupied at home. However, if we focus on things outside our control (e.g. news reports on people panic-buying, reading endless online complaints about the situation etc) can make us feel helpless and anxious.
- Limit your exposure or take a break from the COVID-19 updates.
- While it is important to remain informed, it is good to reflect if the checking has become “unhealthy” or “obsessive”. For example, you feel extremely uneasy or anxious when you are unable to check the updates multiple times in a day.
- Focus on recovery numbers instead of the mortality rates.
- Reminding ourselves about the recovery numbers can help us to feel hopeful and stay motivated in trying times.
- Have a fixed daily schedule (that includes working hours too!).
- Keeping to our daily routine as much as possible can to regain a sense of familiarity and control over our lives.
- Schedule self-care activities
- It is a good habit to accumulate positive experiences amid unprecedented times. This prevents us from being on an emotional deficit or burnout. Parents are not only managing themselves but helping their child(ren) to cope with these changes. Here are some activities you may explore:
- Try a new recipe
- Master a new skill (check out online masterclasses or Youtube tutorials)
- Read a book
- Affirm yourself (reflect on your daily achievements no matter how small they are)
- Practice relaxation exercises for emotional regulation (try the Hot-tea Relaxation Exercise below!)
Hot-tea relaxation exercise:
The purpose of the exercise is to help you focus better. It trains your mind to focus on one thing at a time in the present moment. Doing so may help calm you down and train your mind to disengage from unhealthy thinking patterns. This makes you less vulnerable to emotional distress and is beneficial to your emotional and mental well-being.
Step 1: Brew yourself a warm cup of tea (or coffee if you prefer).
Step 2: Sit yourself down at a comfortable spot. Make sure there are minimal distractions and external stimulus.
Step 3: Place the cup of tea close to your chest and feel the warmth of the steam. At the same time, inhale deeply and exhale slowly. Enjoy the aroma and take slow sips.
Step 4: Feel the warmth of the tea move down your throat and to your stomach. If you find your thoughts wandering, bring your focus back to the deep breathing and the warmth of the tea.
Step 5: Repeat these steps until your mind is calmer and more focused.
If you are a parent and need more advice or information on how you may better care for your mental and emotional health, please call TOUCH Family Life at 6709 8400 to speak with one of our staff.
TOUCH Integrated Family Group (TIFG) is TOUCH’s newest service group, set up in January 2020. TIFG focuses on Family Resources to help families cope with different stressors along their life course, transition of roles in Family Transitions, Relationships & Growth, and building Family Resilience. The group is made up of services such as ‘TOUCH Children & Youth’, ‘TOUCH Family Life’ and ‘TOUCH Family Enablement’.
With TOUCH’s multi-service experience in meeting the needs of disadvantaged children, youth-at-risk and vulnerable families since 1992, TIFG aims to equip families with resources and enable them to build resilience. This is done through an integrated suite of services to support the family as a unit, with emphasis on education, intervention and advocacy.