I write this as Melbourne, my home city, comes out of lockdown. It’s been the longest COVID lockdown that any city in the world has had to live through. It’s been hard and at times overwhelming. But now people have been having haircuts and beauty treatments as well as hanging out in restaurants since midnight. ‘Freedom Friday’ was likened to New Year’s Eve by local morning radio presenters. I, on the other hand, ironically, am still in lockdown. Life throws us curveballs, and the pandemic is but one of this generation’s curveballs. How do you cope with curveballs?
No Freedom day for me, yet
I was in close contact with a positive case at work, so I’m going to be staying at home just a little bit longer. The difference is, I cannot even leave my premises for a walk (I tried doing laps around my house yesterday. Not quite the same!). Although not entirely unexpected (there will be positive COVID cases in our workplaces in the days, weeks and months ahead), it still is a tad frustrating and annoying. I went through a few cycles of grief, anger, frustration, sadness, but seem to have settled somewhat now and accepted the hand I have been dealt and got on with what I can do.
Coping with the curveballs of life
So what do we do when life throws us curveballs? If you feel overwhelmed, then what do you do? A couple of things I have tried doing repeatedly over the past 18 months are:
1. Acknowledge what I do and do not have control over.
I do not have control over the pandemic. I cannot stop people from getting COVID-19. I cannot control the rules and regulations set by the government. I can, however, get up every day at the same time and keep to a regular routine. I can go for walks and take care of myself. I can spend time with friends, online or in person. I can continue to work.
2. Try to keep calm – mostly.
If we are calm, we are going to be in a better frame of mind to deal with life’s difficulties. What helps you keep calm? Listening to music, going for walks, mindfulness, prayer, taking time out?
3. Talk to someone
Talking to someone about how I’m feeling can be helpful. We were not created to walk alone nor to carry our burdens alone. You might find support from family and friends. If, however, you feel that this is not enough, make time to see your GP or ring one of the hotlines in your State or Territory.
4. Be grateful
When it’s all getting a bit much, I pause and count at least three things I’m grateful for.
5. Show kindness
By showing others kindness, we actually feel better about life, and we take our eyes off ourselves and instead look at the needs of others.
Helping our kids cope when they feel overwhelmed
If we do not want our kids to become overwhelmed by what is happening around them, we have to model how to do it, and to be in a good headspace ourselves. We cannot expect our kids not to show big emotions if we are displaying big emotions in front of them.
Anglicare Victoria recently put out a post on social media on supporting kids when they are overwhelmed:
- Encourage your kids to talk about what they are going through. Patiently listen to what they are saying. Do not judge or laugh at what they tell you. Ask them open-ended questions to keep the conversation going.
- Encourage them to share their feelings with you, and affirm these same feelings to them. No feeling is right nor wrong. Then, help them manage their feelings in a way that works for them – mindfulness exercises, deep breathing, getting outside, doing some exercise, doing some craft.
- Ask them what they want. Let them make choices as to what they can do. Give them some control over what is happening around them. What would they like for dinner? What do they want to wear today? Do they have a favourite storybook for you to read to them before bedtime? Which park do they want to visit? Which flavour ice cream?
- Give them clear, factual information that they can understand about what is happening, that is age and stage appropriate. During the pandemic, I have been somewhat astounded at the number of children who did not know what they could and could not do during lockdown, resulting in kids experiencing unnecessary stress and confusion.
- Have fun together as a family. Make time for your kids. Find activities to do together that you all enjoy, no matter how simple. Make the time to spend quality time with each other. Mealtimes, movie nights, bike rides together, visits to local playgrounds, board games or online games together, and cooking together are a few ideas. This helps kids experience joy, provides an opportunity for kids to speak with you about what is on their hearts and minds and a distraction to what may be bothering them. Cuddles, hugs, saying “I love you”, “I’m here with you”, or “We are in this together”, can go a long way.
How are you feeling today? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, what can you do about it? And how can we model this to our kids?
MOPS Field Manager
Some resources if you want some extra support: