"We must make the hard choices now." - Dr. Robin Henderson
So, you’re cooped up, likely a little anxious, and probably feeling a little hopeless as the realities of the mandated stay at home message sinks in. You’re not alone. We humans, well many of us extroverts anyway, were not built for extended bouts of isolation. Don’t fret, there is hope.
Dr. Robin Henderson, Psy.D., whose mission is to improve the mental, social, and spiritual health of the nation, sat down for a conversation with Herfeed.com founder Brette Borow to discuss the mental and emotional challenges of COVID-19.
To kick things off, Ms. Borow and Dr. Henderson talked about what is the normal way people are and can respond to this pandemic. Dr. Henderson said, “This has never happened. With this event [coronavirus outbreak], we can’t come together in the ways we are used to, so there is no normal way to respond.” These are unprecedented times, and our notions of normal are likely forever changed…maybe for the betterment of a healthy society?
Dr. Henderson went on: “The random-ness of COVID is scary. Focus on the things you can control. Take social distancing seriously. Wash your hand anytime you leave or come into your home. Keep surfaces clean.” While simple, these life changes are challenging.
At a time when our civic duty is to stay home, Ms. Borow asked about what people can do sitting on their couch to feel like they have some semblance of normalcy in their lives. “Set a routine and schedule. This is especially important if you have children. This will help us all feel like there’s some normalcy,” said Dr. Henderson. She offered these other tips as well:
- Do things to break up your day. Exercise when you normally do, experiment with cooking, create education plans for your kids.
- Connect with friends and family through virtual video chats.
- Arrange a virtual cooking class with friends.
- Get distant relatives or grandparents involved in reading to kids through video sessions.
Another important question posed by Ms. Borow was around how parents should be talking to their kids about COVID-19. Dr. Henderson responded, “Kids don’t understand why they can’t hang out with their friends. Parents need to make using new technologies fun and engaging. Get kids excited and comfortable using video to stay connected.”
It’s super important for parents to talk to their kids – of all ages – about what’s going on. It’s the duty of parents to help kids understand the importance of staying at home and how such a small gesture – while difficult in the mind of a child – can have live saving implications.
During this time of stress and uncertainty, many people will fight with ongoing mental health or addiction challenges. It’s important that we all ground ourselves in our own feelings. We need to create space for the stress, then pivot to an inner narrative of gratefulness. Acknowledging what we’re grateful for – our family, friends, home, job – can be an elixir to help us navigate this trying time.
In closing, Dr. Henderson said, “It’s going to be ok. It’s going to be tough.”
You can watch the full conversation below.
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