Mental Health Wellness (Part 1)

Last week our ES Counselor Mrs. Moore shared an article on Mental Health Wellness tips by New York psychologist Eileen Feliciano. Here are some ideas on how to stay mentally stable during these difficult times.

1. Stick to a routine.
Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.
2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have.
Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes.  Put on some bright colors.  It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.
3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes.
If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less travelled streets and avenues.   It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.
4. Find some time to move each day.
If you do not feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!
5. Reach out to others.
FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support.  Do not forget to do this for your children as well- they miss their friends too.  
6. Stay hydrated and eat well.
This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often do not mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food.  Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!
7. Develop a self-care toolkit.
This can look different for everyone.  A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (seven senses: touch, taste, sight, hearing, smell, vestibular (movement) and proprioceptive (comforting pressure).  An idea for each: a soft blanket or stuffed animal, a hot chocolate, photos of vacations, comforting music, lavender or eucalyptus oil, a small swing or rocking chair, a weighted blanket. You can help your children create a self-care toolkit for themselves too
8. Spend extra time with children.
Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play.Play is helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there is a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.
9. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone.  Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best.  It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements.  Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.
10. Everyone find their own retreat space.
Space is at a premium, particularly with city living.  It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation.  Help your children identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed.  Make it cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. 
11. Expect behavioral issues in children, and respond gently.
 We are all struggling with disruption in routine, none more than children, who rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next.  Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns.  Hold stable and focus on emotional connection.
12. Focus on safety and attachment.
We are going to be living for a bit with the unprecedented demand of meeting all work deadlines, homeschooling children, running a sterile household, and making a whole lot of entertainment in confinement.  We must remember that these are scary and unpredictable times for children.  Focus on strengthening the connection through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and via verbal reassurances that you will be there for them in this time.

To be continued