Author Archives: Kristin Cofield

Help for “Quarantine Fatigue”

by Kristin Cofield, Family Engagement Specialist

After two months of social distance and stay-at-home orders, many people may experience physical and emotional drain.  As our awareness about COVID-19 heightened, we went into crisis mode.  There was a lot of anxiety, panic, fear, and a need to make quick decisions for the best interest of our families and those we love.  It is difficult and unhealthy to maintain a state of crisis.  Eventually, reality sets in, and our mind will adapt to our current environment or situation. 

Even for those of us who may have welcomed the break in extended family obligations and an over-scheduled calendar, we still miss and crave the human connections we enjoyed. We are social creatures designed to interact with others. 

Now, a whole new type of uncertainty is creeping in as we reopen and return to some previous activities.  You may feel overwhelmed and stressed by the many unanswered questions and the unpredictability of our state. You are most likely feeling the effects of quarantine fatigue if you have felt this way:

  • Irritable or feeling on edge
  • Stressed, anxious, or having racing thoughts
  • Eating more or eating less
  • Unable to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Unmotivated or less productive

May is Mental Health Month, which is a great reminder about how essential it is to monitor and take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.  Everyone reacts differently in a crisis.  Living through a pandemic is stressful and may cause your feelings to change over time.  If distress impacts your daily life for several weeks, consider seeking support.  If you or someone you care about are feeling overwhelmed or showing signs of distress, consider talking to someone about your concerns and feelings.  Looking for a place to start? Here’s just a sampling of licensed counselors able to support you:

Parents Need Love Too: A Guide to Self-Care

by Kristin Cofield, Family Engagement Specialist

Being a parent has never been easy, but we all know in this age of social distancing and COVID-19, it’s only gotten harder. Many of us are experiencing the current events personally. You may have loved ones suffering from the coronavirus. You may have lost a job or financial stability. You are likely juggling many priorities at once, with children at home doing distance learning or while working remotely.

When your mind is racing with thoughts of what can – or should – happen next, understand you are not alone.  We all are in this together.  We all feel the uncertainty, stress, and anxiety regarding what is to come.   During this challenging time, it is essential to prioritize your mental health. 

Self-care is not selfish.  Mental wellness is paramount to how you perceive and cope with stress.  After several weeks of social distance and quarantine, you may feel like you are riding a never-ending emotional roller coaster.  Being intentional about your mental health is in your best interest and benefits your entire family.  The following tips suggest ways to implement self-care into your daily routine. 

Make time for yourself.

It is okay to take a break to recharge and reset.  A shower, bath, or walk in your neighborhood allows time to release stressful energy.  Start with 15 to 30 minutes.  Hey, some time is better than no time!  Consider adding, “Be By Myself” time to your daily schedule.  You can encourage children to participate by reading, writing, resting, or engaging in activities that do not require your help. 

Make healthy choices.

It is easy to slip into unhealthy habits.  Maybe it feels good at the moment to binge-watch Netflix or Disney Plus while eating cookies-n-cream ice-cream and Doritos! To prevent long term health consequences, Dr. Jill Emanuele, a clinical psychologist from the Child Mind Institute, recommends eating properly, getting enough sleep, and including physical activity in your daily routine.  Now, this is not the time to pressure yourself to achieve Beach Body results! However, be mindful of how you are treating your body. 

You can involve your little ones in these routines as well. Spend family time cooking a healthy meal. Have a dance party in your living room. If you don’t have one already, create a soothing bedtime routine.

Be realistic.

Set realistic expectations and give yourself grace if you do not meet them.  COVID-19 turned the world upside down in a short amount of time.  You and your family are learning how to adjust and conquer these abrupt changes the best way you can. Whether you are single, married with children, a teenager, or a senior, it is difficult to comprehend the dramatic changes facing the world today.  Clinical psychologist, Dr. David Anderson states: “Perfectionism and coronavirus don’t mix.  Practice forgiveness, self-compassion, and cut yourself some slack.” 

Set boundaries.

Of course, you want to be well informed regarding COVID-19 updates.  To reduce stress, consider limiting your news intake, including social media.  Set boundaries or emotionally distance yourself from extended family and friends who are prone to send messages provoked with anxiety and fear.  Setting boundaries is not about hurting other people but about acknowledging your needs and being kind to yourself.

Reconnect with things you enjoy.

Work, school, family responsibilities, and extra-curricular activities may have left you with little time to engage in personal hobbies and interests.  Consider this enforced time as divine intervention to reconnect to the things you like to do but have been too busy to begin.  What about that project you planned to start last spring?  Or the new skill you want to learn but pushed aside due to a lack of time and commitment?  Let’s not forget the importance of building stronger family relationships during this time.  Remember, children are experiencing anxiety and stress as well.  They depend on you to be their safe place right now.  The project may be self-care for you but can develop into cherished memories with your family. 

To cope with stress in a healthy manner, make an effort to implement the five tips described above into your daily routine. These coping strategies are effective ways to promote mental wellness and reduce stress.  Remember, self-care is not a luxury or a needless practice!  Your body and mind need your time and attention more than ever.  Being kind to yourself does not mean you have abandoned the people who love and need you.  When you put your oxygen mask on first by practicing self-care, you have a greater emotional ability to care for others.   

Join us for our weekly Parent Mental Wellness online series!

Licensed marriage and family health therapist Abram Sinn joins us for these informal but important weekly discussions via Zoom. We invite parents (married or single), grandparents, foster parents, adoptive parents, or anyone integral in raising children to ask questions, comment, or just listen in. Click each link below to register.

What are you doing to practice self-care? Tell us in the comments below!

References

Jacobson, R., & Child Mind Institute. (n.d.). Self-Care in the Time of Coronavirus. Retrieved April 3, 2020,.

Rylander, A. (2016). Soul 7: Poetry 4 the Soul The Red Diaries. California.

Teaching Children the Art of Giving

by Kristin Cofield, Paths to QUALITY Coach

Four year old Kennisyn overheard a conversation between her parents discussing donating to the United Way of Central Indiana. Kennisyn chimed in and told her parents that she would like to donate also. Each day for one week, Kennisyn took money from her pink piggy bank to school and donated to the United Way collection jar in her class. Kennisyn even asked other family members to contribute to her classroom jar and help raise money for children in need.

Teaching children the art of giving develops kindness, compassion, and caring for others.  Anne Frank said “How wonderful that no one need wait a single moment to improve the world.” At any age, we can all make a difference in someone’s life by showing compassion through our giving, acts of service by volunteering, or other forms of community outreach.

When families make giving and volunteering a normal part of their lives they will teach their children strong core values as they demonstrate these values in action. This philosophy is also true for educators who create a classroom learning environment that introduces and encourages children to practice social tolerance and respect for all people regardless of religion, race, socioeconomic status, gender, age, etc.  There are many creative ways families and educators can teach children the art of giving. The following are a few thoughtful ideas for families and educators to help children become involved in their local community.

  1. Thinking of You: Have children draw or paint a picture of their choice; frame the picture and give to a local hospital where the patients are fighting a terminal illness. Sometimes knowing that someone is thinking of you gives these patients hope to continue fighting their illness.
  2. Charitable Giving: Children can raise money through a lemonade stand; bake sale, art sale, etc.  Allow the children to choose an organization and donate the proceeds to that organization.
  3. Acts of Service: Ask family, friends, and classmates to donate items to create care packages for the homeless.  Donations may include food such as crackers, packaged fruit, or water; personal hygiene items such as soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste; socks, hat and gloves, etc.  Allow the children to help pack the sack lunches or care bags.

A simple Google search will generate many other ideas to help families and educators teach children the art of giving.  So search away and make giving and volunteering fun for the children in your life.  Follow the child’s interest and remember no deed is too small when the act of service stems from a heart full of kindness, compassion and most importantly, love for humanity.