Following Governor Jay Inslee’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order on Monday, March 23, you and your family may find yourselves wondering how you’re going to stay busy and keep calm while not being able to leave the house for anything other than essential errands for the next several weeks.
These unprecedented and uncertain times are causing stress and anxiety even for the coolest of cucumbers. High stress levels aren’t healthy or sustainable for anyone, and when they begin to impact you and the people around you, it’s probably time to evaluate the tools and tactics you are using to cope. Never fear, help is here. Let these tips and resources guide your journey to peace during this unusual time.
Stick to a Schedule
Create an easy-to-follow daily routine for your household. A routine can help you feel more grounded in an otherwise chaotic time. It will also be helpful for your children to continue to wake up, eat and go to bed at their usual times each day, even though you’re staying home.
Come up with a list of items that everyone in your household can participate in each day. Include defined times for things like study, play, meals, chores and rest. You could even make a game out of it to make it more fun to participate.
- Follow these tips for setting a routine for everyone in the family
- Check out Khan Academy’s daily schedule examples by grade level
- Watch this video about establishing a healthy routine while social distancing.
While it is important to stay informed, one way to lower your stress levels is to take breaks from reading, watching and listening to the news—including on social media. The World Health Organization says that “a near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel anxious or distressed.” Use your online time to explore positive themes and activities.
- Listen to children’s authors doing read-alouds
- Get offline altogether and make some crafts
- Play board games you already have on hand
- Pull out the puzzles stashed in the back of your closet
- Find a new podcast to listen to using Spotify, iTunes, or whatever app you usually use to get your podcasts.
Learn Something New
Try something new! Studies have shown that learning a new skill or picking up a new hobby is highly beneficial for your overall mental health. Immersing yourself in a new activity can be a healthy distraction from the stress of being stuck at home during an outbreak. Try new things individually or together as a family, like baking a new recipe, trying out a fun dance, or learning a new language. You can also take a virtual class in a new subject or take an online tour of a famous art museum. Here are some ideas:
- Learn something new in a subject that interests you through OSPI Resources for Continuous Learning, AmazingEducationalResources.com or Scholastic Learn at Home
- Learn a new language with the free Duolingo app
- Take a virtual tour of a famous art museum
- Check your local library’s website to see what digital resources they have available
- Take a free Intro to Culinary Skills course
- Find a science lesson on MysteryScience.com. These are broken up by grade level for easy access.
- Take a virtual field trip to a museum, national park, or zoo
Exercise is a great way to help reduce stress and anxiety. Be sure to add movement into your family’s daily routine, whether that’s taking the dog for a walk around the neighborhood (yes, that’s still allowed!), following along with a dance video or relaxing with yoga stretches. Find a new exercise activity at one of these links:
- Walk your pets around the block
- Have a dance party in your living room
- Visit a park in your neighborhood–but refrain from using playground equipment, and be sure to stay at least 6 feet away from others.
- Many exercise websites are offering free videos and extended free trials of their services. Check out YMCA Alliance of Washington, Aaptiv, Cosmic Kids Yoga, Fitness Blender, and The Body Coach.
Connect with Nature
Even with Governor Inslee’s Stay Home order in place, it’s still ok to go for a walk, or even visit a nearby park, as long as you practice adequate social distancing measures. Make your walk even more fun by collecting nature items along the way. Another easy way to get active in nature right at home is to plant or tend to a garden. Spring is the perfect time to begin planning and planting your home’s outdoor space.
- Get started on your summer garden! Use containers around your home or dig up some space in your yard to plant seeds or small plant starts of flowers or foods you can harvest in the summer. As you choose your plant varieties, research them as a family so everyone understands what they need in order to grow successfully.
- Try out one of these backyard activities
- Watch some nature webcams
- Make a tree bark rubbing
Staying connected through physical separation is now easier than ever, thanks to online communications. Everyone can keep their distance and still stay connected through platforms like social media, video chat apps and email. Schedule daily or weekly check-ins with friends and family to keep in touch while practicing social distancing.
- Use video apps like FaceTime, Skype or Zoom to virtually hang out with friends and family
- Use a streaming app like Netflix Party to watch movies and shows with friends and family who don’t live with you.
- Communicate the old fashioned way! Mail a postcard, letter or care package to a loved one.
This is a strange and unusual time, unlike anything we’ve ever been through, and it’s okay to feel nervous and a little stressed. But by taking small acts like the ones above, we can lessen that stress and keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and happy. And remember, we are all in this together, and we will get through this.