By Kaelanne Jordan
One of the things that can help persons cope during this COVID-19 lockdown is to be kind to someone else.
“Call a neighbour, fix things around their house…. share groceries…all of these things contribute to our well-being,” Crystal Johnson, the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission’s (AFLC) Mental Health Clinician said during a Zoom conversation with AFLC’s Episcopal Delegate Tricia Syms on April 24. The topic was ‘Parenting during COVID-19’.
While there are, according to Johnson, some “positive” aspects to the lockdown, e.g. more cooking, more time spent with families, there exists challenges for parents.
“And that’s why I wanted to have an ongoing conversation with everyone, so we talk about what’s going on and hear what everybody else is going through as well…. I think more than any other time we need each other….” Johnson said.
Echoing similar sentiments, Syms observed that adults particularly do not realise the need to take care of themselves. She felt while many parents are now busy taking care of the home, there are a lot of things happening emotionally.
Syms shared that the COVID-19 isolation has been “a challenge”. She said yesterday was “not a good day at all”, explaining that the feeling is more than just not being able to go outside but rather, being overwhelmed by daily online meetings, and viewing the computer screen at extended periods during the day. Syms, a mother of two teen boys discussed another challenge of working from home when the entire household is also working from home.
“…at the end of the day I’m just burnt out and tired. At the end of yesterday I said I need to find ways to come off my screen whether it’s the computer screen or the phone and just go into the yard. One day we played cards, just to connect … so we’re trying to find ways of coping,” Syms said.
On the issue of coping, Syms has been spending time in her garden planting crops and seasonings. Experimenting in the kitchen, following exercises online three days a week for an hour and a half has also “really helped” in terms of coping, Syms said.
She asserted that persons ought not to fill this time with “busyness” as they did prior. Syms suggested persons cope by praying, reflecting on the gospel of the day and reading “some good” Catholic books.
To this end, Johnson, a mother of three including a four-month-old, stressed if persons are not attuned to their emotions, it may result in a “ripple effect” that will extend to the household.
“It’s important to self-regulate your emotions and keep them in check…so it’s not just coping, you also have to check in with yourself so you know exactly what to do and how to cope with everything you are dealing with. Because sometimes what tends to happen is… without realising, you might be experiencing a full blown panic attack…But that’s the creeper in this regard because you don’t really have anywhere to go to really vent…” Johnson said.
Syms asserted that though the churches are physically closed, the Church continues to provide emotional and spiritual care to those in need.
Persons can contact 607-HOPE for assistance, contact their parish or visit catholictt.org for more information.