Simple Ideas with Profound Impact
Managing Health and Wellness: Coping with COVID-19 Part 1
We get it! Your life has been turned upside down almost overnight by a microscopic organism. A microscopic organism, specifically a coronavirus that evidently didn’t even exist before November of 2019 and that almost nobody on earth had even heard about before the beginning of 2020.
You’re afraid about you and your children becoming infected by this coronavirus. You’re afraid about infecting others if you or your children do become infected. You’re worried about your family members, perhaps older parents, grandparents. You’re concerned about whether you and your children can fight the virus if you do become infected. On top of that you may well be one of the millions of people around the world whose jobs have been affected by this and you worry about the impact that is going to have on you and your family.
And as if all of that is not enough to worry about, you’re unexpectedly home with the kids and asking yourselves “What the heck am I going to do with them all day?!” We’ve got a bunch of things in the works to help you with that one but more on that in Part 2 of Coping with COVID-19.
Weathering the Storm
For the following thoughts I am deeply indebted to the work and inspiration of leadership expert, Michael Hyatt. You can learn more about his work at https://michaelhyatt.com/.
So, for a few moments sit back, take a few deep breaths, and consider this. In any crisis, there are three main things you need to do to weather the storm and come out on the other side not just whole but better than you might possibly have imagined. First, you must recognize what has happened. Second, you must reassess where you are as a result of that. Third, based on your reassessment you must then respond to what has happened.
Here’s what that might look like in the current situation:
- Recognize – The first step is to acknowledge the challenge in all of it’s ugliness. This means looking at the threats posed by the virus itself – the threat to your health, as well as the threat to your economic well being. The second step is to carefully consider how you are responding to the crisis. It’s so easy to become overwhelmed by all the bad news. To avoid that it’s critical that you are careful about the input you allow into your life. In an age of 24/7 cable news that is no easy task! But remember, your children are watching you and taking their cues from you. Your ability to remain calm and collected as you come to grips with everything will determine your ability to take the next two steps.
- Reassess – So here you are. Most of you, like us, are sheltered at home for the foreseeable future… with the kids!!! Heaven knows how long that is going to last. So, one really important question to ask is what is that going to look like? Obviously, you need to mitigate the risks posed by the coronavirus. There’s a lot we don’t know about the virus but there is also a lot we do know. So that may actually be the easiest part of dealing with this. The bigger question is how to handle you and your children being home together for what could be anywhere from a few weeks to a few months? And that is where the silver lining lies in this crisis. It may have been completely unexpected, but believe it or not this crisis contains within it a golden opportunity for you and your children. It’s an opportunity to spend seriously quality time together, an opportunity to reclaim your rightful role as your child’s first and best teacher, and an opportunity to pursue an education focused more on your child’s interests and passions and less on a standardized curriculum. You and your children have everything to gain if you seize the opportunity!
- Respond – You have to act. Now that you have recognized the magnitude of what has happened and reassessed where you are as a result, the next step is to act. Decide how you are going to handle this. Devise a plan, rally the troops, tell them what you are going to do, and put the wheels in motion.
Maintaining Health + Managing Fears and Emotions
In the remainder of this post, I’m going to deal with two things related to your children and your role as parents, things that we deal with on a regular basis:
- Health – avoiding and fighting infections
- Fears and Emotions – dealing with them openly and honestly
First, let’s deal with health concerns because without health everything else is meaningless. It’s important for me to point out that what follows is for educational purposes only. It does not substitute for or replace medical advice. If you have concerns about your health or that of your children you should seek the opinion of your family physician.
Some of the things I will list have already been talked about at great length by others. I am providing a Cliffs Notes version. Remember our mantra… frequency, intensity, duration. These are messages that bear repeating. They might save a life! A big shout out to Dr. Elisa Song for her extensive treatment of both the health and emotional aspects of this crisis on her blog at https://healthykidshappykids.com/
The key to avoiding infections, including and especially infection by COVID-19, is common sense vigilance. The key to fighting infections, including infection by COVID-19, is a robust immune system.
Avoiding infection – COMMON SENSE!
- Keep your distance. All of the evidence gathered so far points to the importance of this. Experience demonstrates that social distancing slows the spread of the virus. Because COVID-19 is so virulent this practice, difficult as it may be, is critical.
- Wash hands frequently. With soap and water. For at least 20 seconds. Like, more frequently than you have ever washed them in your life. And, in the words of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young… teach your children well!
- Use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. It’s simple. Alcohol kills viruses. If you are washing hands frequently that should suffice but you can use an alcohol based sanitizer to disinfect the surfaces you come in contact with.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth! I know… REALLY, REALLY, difficult especially for the kids. You have to try!
- Irrigate your nose. I think this is a great recommendation from Dr. Elisa Song, one I have not seen from anyone else. Lots of ways to do this but XLEAR Nasal Spray works beautifully.
- Cover your cough with your elbow or tissues. Hello Captain Obvious!
- Stay home when you’re sick unless you need urgent medical attention. Seriously? This should go without saying!
Fighting infection – Requires a ROBUST immune system
- Eat lots of foods and spices with antiviral properties. Think garlic, ginger, turmeric, oregano, thyme, star anise.
- Eat lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Colorful veggies, especially red and yellow, are rich in Vitamin C. Many fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants, crucial for fighting oxidative stress brought on by infection and just the stress of daily living.
- Stay well-hydrated. Drink! Water! Lots of it!
- Avoid simple sugars and processed/junk food. This is ultra important! Even under “normal” circumstances, the single most important thing that anyone can do to improve overall health is to reduce or eliminate sugar from the diet. When confronted with the threat of the coronavirus this takes on special importance. Don’t eat sugar!
- Get fresh air and moderate daily exercise. Sure, practice social distancing but get outside in the sunlight and get your heart pumping! Full spectrum light and Vitamin D all for free! It does a body good.
- Get adequate sleep. You’re home. No excuses. Get more sleep!
- Minimize stress. Sure, you want to know what is going on. So go ahead and get your daily news briefing. But do yourself and your heart and brain a favor. Control your exposure to the onslaught of 24/7 news. In talking about children being diagnosed as “emotionally disturbed”, one of my most important mentors was fond of sarcastically saying “If emotionally disturbed means what I think it means, I can tell you that I get emotionally disturbed every afternoon when my daily dose of depression (the daily newspaper) comes flying over the wall in front of my house!” Keep that under control. You’ve already got enough stress!
These are things that we recommend for all of the children we work with and think that everyone should take because the average Western diet is woefully deficient in most of these vitamins and minerals. Makes sense to include them as part of an overall strategy to pump up your immune system at this time.
- Fish oil
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D3
Fear and Emotions
I don’t need to tell you that your children come equipped with built-in radar and can read your feelings and emotions without the slightest problem. When you’re stressed, worried, or afraid… they know. It’s like a sixth sense. You can’t hide your feelings from them. Therefore, it is important that you recognize how you react to this crisis and that you are careful about how you talk about it.
Monitor your own reaction
- Just covered this above. If you’re having a tough time, that’s OK, it’s normal. Cut yourself some slack. But deal with your feelings out of sight of the kids. Once you’re calm and collected, you’ll be in a better place to speak with them.
- Listen carefully to your children. We often think we know what our children are thinking only to find out later that we were projecting our fears onto them. So don’t make assumptions. Ask questions and let them ask questions. Try to put yourself in their shoes.
- Be respectful. Pay special attention to how you are reacting to their questions and thoughts. And by all means, don’t minimize any of their feelings because however trivial they might seem to you, they are very real to them.
- Children often have difficulty clearly expressing things as abstract as feelings. It helps to make those feelings concrete by giving them a label or name. It just helps them verbalize the feelings and begin to deal with them. All feelings are fair game. Remember to put yourself in their shoes.
Talk with your kids
- We’ve talked about this in another blog post as just a generally important way of being with children. But in this situation it takes on special importance. Talk WITH your kids, not talk to them. Do this and you’ll be amazed at how they respond.
- Any discussion about the current crisis should be age-appropriate.
- Answer questions in a straightforward manner. Keep it simple.
- Be honest. Don’t try to hide anything because remember, your kids have radar. They’ll know and then their imaginations can run wild. Also, if you don’t know the answer to a question, say so.
- Let your kids know how you feel but maintain your cool. Zen is the word.
- You don’t have to paint a rosy picture, but you shouldn’t paint one of just doom and gloom, either.
- Let kids know that most people who have the virus don’t even know it because they have no symptoms or mild symptoms. This is especially true for children.
- More than anything children need to know and feel that they are safe, and they look to their parents to provide that safety.
- Routine helps us to know what we can expect. It provides emotional security. The younger one is, the more neurologically immature the more important this is. The simple fact that school is closed (and it’s not summer vacation!) and many parents are now working from home throws the usual routine right out the window. It’s essential that you establish a new routine for the duration of this crisis however long that might be.
Focus on the positive
- So often how well we are able to weather a crisis is determined by our perception of it. Be a “glass is half full” kind of parent. Let your sense of optimism in the midst of trial permeate everything you do with your children.
- Nothing helps to relieve the mind of the weight of dealing with a crisis like this better than taking action. Brainstorm with your kids how you as a family can make a difference in this time of need. Children LOVE to be part of making a difference. Two favorite quotes related to this: From German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”; and from neuroscientist Robert K. Cooper “Care as if everything depends on your caring, and raise a banner where a banner never flew.”
We know these are tough times for everyone. We are very busy here figuring out for ourselves how to move forward in this new reality. Life for us is changing too. But, when faced with the right attitude, change is good. It’s invigorating.
We are working on a number of new initiatives to help you take the best advantage of this totally unexpected and golden opportunity that you now have by having your kids at home! In Part 2 of Coping with COVID-19 I will talk about why this is such a golden opportunity for you and your children and give you a peek behind the curtain at what we have in the works.
In the meantime check out some of our archive post categories to help you at home:
- Introductory Posts – Refresher on who we are
- Practical – Tips, tricks, and bits of knowledge to incorporate into your day to day.
- Science – Learn how the brain works and how it can help you parent better!
- Product Reviews
Contact us here if you need any help or advice… practice social distancing… and stay healthy!