A pandemic is a type of natural trauma.
It’s a fact: experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, or other feelings of helplessness during a pandemic is normal.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), how people respond to the experience of this natural event depends on several factors:
- degree of devastation
- amount of time it takes to re-establish routines and services like returning to school or work, being able to go to the grocery store, etc.
The amount of support during this time can significantly impact the amount of time it takes to recover from the stress response. During this time of the COVID-19 shutdown, educators might feel additional pressure on top of taking care of themselves and their loved ones. Pressure to work from home, feeling responsible for teaching students from afar, and other factors, can increase the amount of stress educators have.
Working from home and staying physically isolated from others can also add to the stress of this event.
It is important to engage in self-care and keep routines.
Here are some ways to keep routines consistent:
- Wake up at the same time every weekday.
- Go to bed at a regular time.
- Set a timer for regular breaks and meals during the day if you are still working.
- Keep office hours to a set time during the day.
- Working 24/7 f rom home can take a toll. Set boundaries for yourself and with others by limiting your office hours and time for work.
What are some strategies I can use while I am home during the shutdown?
If you are practicing social distancing or your community has placed limitations on your ability to leave your home, It’s important to stay socially connected with your friends, family, and teaching community.
Schedule a regular check-in with colleagues once a day or once a week. If you are struggling, you are not alone. It’s good to support each other during this time even if it’s through a five-minute call to say hi and share what’s new.
Pick up the phone and call a friend. Talking with friends and family over the phone or over an online video platform can be more beneficial than texting or social media. Venting your frustrations to a close friend can even release some of the stress you might be feeling.
The researchers at Greater Good in Action recommend taking a self-compassion break when feeling stressed out. You can find their self-compassion break activity here.
Find creative ways to get exercise. Now’s the time to try that online yoga video on Youtube or clean out the garage for your home gym. Spending time alone if you are the caretaker and still working from home can be challenging. It’s okay to set boundaries for some time alone. Schedule a time in the early morning hours or later in the evening to do things like: take a bath, read a book, pick up an old or new hobby, meditate, sit still, binge-watch your favorite show, sit on the porch and enjoy the sunset or sunrise, or to just breathe.
Practice social distancing from social media and the news for at least an hour or two a day if you can. It’s important to stay informed, but constantly bombarding ourselves with negative outlooks and bad news, can inadvertently increase our stress levels.