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Keeping It Real: How To Deal With Your Mental Health During a Global Health Pandemic

This blog post covers an in-depth topic of the importance of maintaining your mental health during the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). We spoke with three mental health professionals during two-episodes of our Facebook Live show – Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues for tips and resources for members of our community.

This is a REAL ISSUE we wanted to discuss with our Central PA community!

In April on our Facebook Live Show “Keeping it Real: Real Estate and Real Issues,” we felt compelled to cover a topic that has closely affected the Central Pennsylvania community as well as countless others across Pennsylvania, the nation and the world.

We hosted a two-part show where Sheena Lansannah, one of our licensed real estate agents, and myself (Erica Rawls), spoke with three mental health professionals to learn tips for families, adults and children on how to maintain their mental health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic.

For this important topic, we spoke with:

  • Dr. Ericka Pinckney NCC, LPC/ – Associate Clinical Director – Keystone Human Services Central ID and Independent Contractor
  • Candice Coleman, M.A. HS. — Creator of The Green Couch Therapist @thegreencouchtherapist on Instagram & Facebook)
  • Matthew Wallace — Counselor at Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc., @mattymattofficial

Throughout this blog post, we’ll provide a variety of tips and information on how to manage your emotions, feelings of anxiety, children/families, working from home, and other subjects related to your mental health as we navigate the Coronavirus pandemic.

These topics include: (Click the links to jump to each section in the blog post below!)

  • Does It Help To Talk About How We Feel About the Coronavirus and What We’re Going Through?
  • What Can Parents Do To Help Children’s Feelings About Coronavirus?
  • How to Talk About the Coronavirus With Your Children – Coping Strategies & Tips
  • How to Maintain Your Mental Health as a Single Person in Quarantine
  • How to Avoid a Rut During Quarantine
  • How to Maintain Happy Thoughts
  • Resources for Adults & Teens

“Does It Help To Talk About How We Feel About the Coronavirus and What We’re Going Through?” — Yes, Absolutely!

You should absolutely talk about how you feel and it’s important to keep abreast of what’s going on, but you should do so in small doses. Don’t consume it 24/7, according to Candice.

“Yes, it’s definitely good to talk about it … but, you will need to take breaks from it, especially with all the media; constantly seeing it…it can be a trigger. Try as much as possible to take in facts and not hearsay,” Candice said.

And, Matt agrees with Candice. A lot of the anxiety around the Coronavirus is the fear of the unknown and not having all of the information, he explained. We are hearing about the deaths in the news and numbers rising, but we shouldn’t take in bad information.

“So, definitely educate yourself on what’s going on. Talk about it. Validate the experiences of those you’re in quarantine with,” Matt said.

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How to Talk About the Coronavirus With Your Children – Coping Strategies & Tips

You have to acknowledge their feelings—whether they’re upset or frustrated.

As our discussion evolved, Dr. Ericka Pinckney (Dr. Ericka P. from now on), reminded us of the importance of making our conversations about what’s happening developmentally appropriate for our children.

We watch the news and hear the technical terms and names like COVID-19, but, as adults, we need to help our younger ones understand what’s going on — and at their level of understanding.

Children — everyone from infants to college students — are being affected by the pandemic in a dramatic way. Happy moments, like birthdays, high school and college graduations, are now uncertain moments.

As parents, you may wonder if you should even talk about it with them. You have to acknowledge their feelings, whether they’re upset or frustrated, according to Dr. Ericka P.

“And … It’s also important for you to remain calm when explaining it to them so they can take on that sense of calmness in the household and not panic. … because there is a lot to panic about right now, but it’s important to, like we said earlier, to get information and give information to alleviate some of the stress of the unknown,” Matt added.

Everything is changing and this is something that is unprecedented. It’s never happened before, at least not in my lifetime, and especially working as a real estate agent, where we’ve also had to adjust how we conduct our operations during COVID-19.

What Can Parents Do To Help Children’s Feelings About Coronavirus?

  • Take control of what you can control
  • Teach them about the importance of germs & cleaning
  • Talk with your child(ren) about their feelings & the facts on Coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Maintain a daily/schedule (get up at a regular time, eat breakfast, get dressed, etc)
  • Limit the amount of social media
  • Create games to help them express their feelings (Pinterest boards, emotional charades, vision boards, etc

With the ongoing pandemic, there are many things out of our control right now, and one of the most important things we can do is focus on the things that remain within our control, especially when it comes to our children because they look up to us.

According to Matt, it helps if you try to remain calm about the situation. You can’t control whether you catch the virus, necessarily, but you can control your ability to teach your children about germs and the importance of cleaning. You also can control how well you listen to them and let them express their feelings.

“One thing we have talked about with our 5-year-old [is] this is like a sick day, or a mommy, daddy, and son day – because he doesn’t really understand why he can’t necessarily see his friends,” Sheena said.

While we want to help our children understand what’s going on, it’s vital we take the time to explain what really is happening and provide them with factual information, Candice added. If they ask questions, even to things you don’t know, it’s okay to go and do more research to get the correct information, she said.

As Dr. Ericka P explained, you can think of the changes our children are currently going through like a disruption to our biological clocks right after we come back from summer break or a long vacation. Right now, our daily structure has been totally disrupted, therefore it’s on us, the adults, to recreate that structure, she said.

While there are people who may argue this could be viewed as an extended vacation for the children and may want to allow them to sleep in, we can see some problems that might cause, Dr. Ericka P said.

It’s more beneficial for you to maintain a schedule—like going to bed and getting up at a decent time, brushing your teeth, eating breakfast, etc—even though you can’t leave the home. You want to maintain an environment conducive to learning, according to Dr. Ericka P.

“Should I Consider Taking a Break from Social Media?”

Social media can definitely play a role in how you’re coping with the Coronavirus pandemic while under stay-at-home quarantine orders.

We all need a break sometimes and that requires taking a step back. Social media is just another opportunity for everyone to compare their lives, and people can get into jealous states for different reasons.

For example, there are many people quarantined with their family and/or loved ones, while others may be quarantined solo or in domestic abuse situations.

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How to Maintain Your Mental Health as a Single Person in Quarantine

  • Connect with people via virtual conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype, etc
  • Attend a virtual club/dance party (Check out DNICE – Celebrity Instagram DJ @DNice)
  • Pick up your phone — make stronger social connections
  • Schedule virtual happy/hours with friends/family
  • Listen to a new podcast

As real estate agents, we still regularly speak with our clients and single people we’re working with—people who are alone while in quarantine. We asked our experts for tips on things they can do to maintain their mental health and avoid loneliness during the stay-at-home orders of the pandemic.

Suggestions our panelists shared focused on how to stay connected with others despite the lack of their physical presence. The tips include:

  • Using Zoom, Skype or another online virtual conferencing software or phone app to talk with others
  • Attending a virtual club/dance party on Instagram or Facebook – There’s a celebrity DJ on Instagram named @DNice you should check out!
  • Calling— instead of texting—to make stronger social connections over the phone
  • Scheduling virtual happy/hours with friends/family using the HouseParty App
  • Listening to podcasts based on your interests

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How to Avoid a Rut During Quarantine: 3 Tips for Adults & Families

  • Do an activity you normally don’t do (Bake/cook together, play games)
  • Create structured days and theme nights (Keep a routine—Get up & dressed!)
  • Don’t book Zoom (work) calls back-to-back (If you can control it)

If you seem to be doing the same thing every day and you feel like you’re in a rut because you’re working from home, or unexpectedly unemployed, and have children and/or pets, Candice recommends sneaking in some form of self-care every day, like a facial or quality time with a significant other.

“Whenever I find myself getting into a rut, you know, that’s a sign that, I, I may be burning out and may need to take a step back, [and] do something for me,” Matt said. “I think at this time, it’s important to get creative.”

Our panelists collectively shared the following tips for families to shake up their routine.

Tip #1 — Do an activity you normally don’t do (bake/cook together, play games)

Since we are now at home, plan an activity that you normally don’t have time to do. Bake your favorite recipes, have a family game night and rotate games, or create scrapbooks from old family photos!

Tip #2 — Create structured days and themed nights: Keep a routine—Get up & dressed!

One way to keep the flow of your household, especially from an educational standpoint, is keeping a routine with structured days and themed nights. Parents should model the routine for children to keep, like getting up, getting dressed, eating breakfast, and doing work (or school work/ an enrichment activity).

Then, you can create themed nights, like dress up, poker, or movie night, or another creative option you can think of since our choices of going outside are limited.

Tip #3 — Don’t book Zoom (work) Calls Back-to-Back (If possible)

If you are in control of scheduling your day while working from home, don’t book your calls back-to-back. Give yourself a break in-between.

Remember your phone still works, so every call doesn’t need to be a Zoom meeting or video conference.

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How to Maintain Happy Thoughts During the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19)

  • Acknowledge your feelings and realize it’s okay to have them
  • Squeeze a stress ball
  • Do something else for a few seconds to take your mind off the negative thought
  • Focus on the things within your control

Maintaining your mental health during a global health pandemic can be difficult, especially when so many people around you are telling you to think positively, or be creative and start a new business.

However, that is not as easy as it seems for some people, and at times, negative thoughts can take over.

According to Sheena, coming home after leaving our Next Home Realty Office or going out for work-related activities used to be her place of peace, but now, since being at home all the time—home doesn’t feel as peaceful.

As our discussion on mental health evolved, we asked our panelists to discuss ways we can maintain happy thoughts when unpleasant ones come over us. Some suggestions they offered include:

Acknowledging your thoughts and realizing it’s okay to have them

Squeezing a stress ball or another form of a brief, physical release

Doing something else for a few seconds to take your mind off your negative thought

Focusing on the things you can control within your life

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Resources for Adults & Teens To Help With Your Mental Health During The Pandemic

We are blessed to have three mental health professionals join us for an important discussion on how to maintain your mental health during the Coronavirus — or any — global health pandemic during our Keeping it Real: Facebook Live show.

We asked them for information on resources for adults, teens, and children for things to do while staying at home in quarantine during the pandemic.

Check out our list curated by our experts!

Mobile Apps & Podcasts

  • Calm App – For meditation and mindful exercises
  • House Party App – For hosting virtual house parties
  • Brown Ambition (podcast) – Discussing mental health and financial planning
  • Therapy for Black Girls – (podcast) – Discussing all things mental health, personal development, how to make little decisions that allow us to become the best versions of ourselves.

Crisis & Mental Health Hotlines

  • HOME (Crisis Text Line): Text 741741
  • Call NAMI Helpline: 1-800-950-6264 Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m., ET, or by email at info@nami.org
  • Call Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 or Text VA Responder: 838255: Free and confidential support for Veterans and their families and friends during a crisis

Virtual Crisis Counseling. You can speak with a counselor online.

Virtual Museum Tours & Zoos

Virtual Activities & Things to Do at Home Resources

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2 thoughts on “Keeping It Real: How To Deal With Your Mental Health During a Global Health Pandemic”

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