Coping During COVID-19
At Oakwood Schools, our students' mental health and overall wellness continues to be a priority, despite our physical closing.
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is causing more than a few disruptions in our lives. We've seen schools closed, events postponed and our spring sports season put on hold. Many of us are experiencing stress and anxiety, coping with those feelings can make you stronger.
During this time, email is the primary method of communication for the Oakwood Schools' Counseling Department. You can expect a response to your email on weekdays within 24 hours. We can also use email to set up a time to discuss things further through phone or Google Meet, if desired.
I'm here to help!
Even though our physical doors are closed, I am still available to work with students and families. At this time, email is our primary and initial method of communication. You can contact me at waugh.hilary@oakwoodschools.
If needed, we can coordinate additional conversations via the phone or Google Meet. (Please keep in mind that while confidentiality is still a main priority, some of these platforms are not as confidential as a face-to-face meeting).
According to the CDC, everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
It's important we work to manage this stress.
As we settle into the “stay-at-home marathon”, it’s important to set up expectations and routine. If you haven’t already, consider sitting down with your teen to talk about what their days will look like during this time of distance learning. Your teen is more likely to stick to a schedule where they have contributed input into their routine. Most likely they are not sleeping and waking at typical “school” hours. Talk to your teen about setting an alarm at a time that will ensure that they get some daylight and participate in family activities, such as family meals. Then work with them to set up a schedule, incorporating not only academics but also the self-care activities that will keep them healthy during this unique time.
A table such as the example below could be a useful tool in helping teens and families create a collaborative schedule, while also giving teens the opportunity to take responsibility for their self-care and time-management. Teens can fill in the categories daily as a reminder to take care of their whole selves. It’s important for them to stay caught up and engaged with school work, and it’s also important for them to stay in touch with friends and find ways to have fun and relax. Again, this table is an example and if families find this tool useful they should tailor it to the needs of their family/child. Please note that not all categories will be filled every day! Also, teens will find different ways to fill these categories, including ways that might not seem “productive” to the adult eye (see “staring out the window” or “memes”).
*Credit to the Trauma Resource Institute webinar: “Cultivating Resilience and Compassion in an At-Home Schooling Environment”
You may notice your teens going through a variety of different reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state-wide Stay-At-Home order, as well as the ongoing school closure.
Some teens will continue to express glee about being out of school. Some will be angry, or grieving the experiences they are losing being away from school and friends. Some will be anxious and worried about the world around them, or about their own future. Some will throw themselves into their school work, which might give them a sense of normalcy. Others will find it impossible to focus at times, or will struggle immensely to focus on school work outside of the familiar context of the building. Some kids will demonstrate all of the above, as well as the whole range of emotions---as we say at my house, “feeling all of the feelings.”
All of this is to be expected. All of this is normal. It’s hard enough to be an adolescent (and to parent an adolescent!) to begin with. No matter how your child copes and expresses their reactions to this unprecedented and stressful situation, you can provide support to help them ride the ups and downs of this particular moment.
The following are some simple tips to help teens manage the emotions inherent to this particularly challenging time.
- Check in with your teen regularly. Give them time to talk, and listen without giving advice or problem-solving. If you are tempted to help them solve the problem (unless they have asked directly) wait at least five minutes, continuing to listen without judgment. Then, ask them if they want help in the form of advice or problem-solving. Sometimes this is welcome, others they just need time to talk. It’s important to help teens understand that a full range of reactions to this ongoing crisis is normal, expected, and even healthy.
- If possible, make sure that your teen has a quiet space where they can take a break and decompress. Help them find a balance between spending time alone (or online with friends) and interacting with family face to face. A simple way to do this is to make sure the family is sitting down together for at least once face-to-face meal per day so that everyone has a chance to check in with one another.
- Help teens find the right amount of information to follow about the crisis, which may vary depending on their emotional state and stress level. Give teens the opportunity to ask questions and process information. Perhaps set a daily time when the family receives information together, such as Governor DeWine’s press conference.
Although remaining inside is a good way to protect yourself and others from the coronavirus, it can also lead to being bored, anxious and stressed.
Here are a few resources to help navigate your time at home:
If you, your student, or a peer is experiencing more extensive or crisis-related concerns (such as severe depression, harm to others, self-harm, or suicidal ideation), please contact one of the following resources immediately:
- Crisis Care (937) 224-4646
- Crisis Text Line-Text CONNECT to 741741
- National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK
- Drug and Poison Control: 1-800-222-1222
- 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
- Dayton Children’s Crisis Center for students 17 or younger:
- Monday through Friday 8:00 am - midnight
- Saturday and Sunday 2:00 pm - midnight
- Visit the ER during other times
- Miami Valley Hospital or Kettering Medical Center ER - if 18 or older