The COVID-19 pandemic has created the opportunity for us to recognize the truth in that statement: “We all need help sometimes.” The indefinite nature of the pandemic — its length, its pervasiveness, its capacity to infect people — has caused mental and physical stress for many individuals. They wonder: What will be impacted today? When will we be “back to normal”? Will we ever return to the way it was or will there be a new normal? If so, what will that look like? Should we postpone this event? When will we be able to hold a place-based gathering safely?
Because we may assume that everyone is experiencing the same situation does not make it less stressful, although it does make it challenging to recognize the ways stress might be affecting ourselves and others. This is something you may be experiencing, and the families with whom you work could be in the same situation. Stress can cause fatigue or exhaustion or manifest as an inability to make decisions, keep to timelines or feel ready to approach tasks.
Once acknowledged, we may be convinced to seek support. Certainly, we may rely on own social connections for a boost of energy or turn to our faith community, local agencies or employer assistance programs to seek support or short-term counseling. Some of us may need some help with supports like rental or mortgage assistance or supplements to our food supplies because of changes in work status.
Here are a few ideas developed in an article by Tara Haelle that you may want to consider:¹
- Accept that life is different right now.
- Expect less from yourself.
- Recognize the different aspects of grief.
- Experiment with “both-and” thinking.
- Look for activities, new and old, that continue to fulfill you.
- Focus on maintaining and strengthening important relationships.
- Begin slowly to build your resilience back.
An area of stress for many families is the education of children. Whether children are using online learning options partially or entirely or going to a school building every day, parents are called to be more actively engaged with what children are learning and how they access educational resources. The Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), in collaboration with the Bureau of Special Education, has created a website for families and general educators supporting complex learners at home. For the purpose of this website, a complex learner is a child, youth or young adult with an intellectual or significant cognitive disability, multiple disabilities and/or sensory impairment.² The Social Emotional Learning Community of Practice of the Central Susquehanna Intermediate Unit has developed a series of resources to help communities, schools and parents face these difficult decisions.³
It can be difficult to ask for help. It makes us feel so exposed, so vulnerable. Please consider this wisdom from Brené Brown: “When you cannot ask for help without self-judgment, you are never really offering help without judgment.”4 This can be difficult to accept, because we offer assistance freely, but if it is not comfortable to ask for help, we must ask ourselves why. If we think of ourselves as “less-than” (someone else or not capable), then what does that say about the people for whom we offer help? Think about it. Be brave! Free yourself to ask for help and feel better!
This article is from Family Support News Brief’s October 2020 edition. Read full edition. The PA Family Support News Brief covers topics like Parents as Teachers model fidelity and training, strengthening families protective factors, prevention of child abuse, childhood injury prevention, and more.
1 Haelle, T. (2020, September 10). Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted - It’s Why You Feel Awful. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://elemental.medium.com/your-surge-capacity-is-depleted-it-s-why-you-feel-awful-de285d542f4c
2 COVID 19 Pandemic Support for Education. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.pattan.net/Home/Mini-Slideshow-With-Image/Continuity-of-Education-Planning-Resources
3 Social and Emotional Wellness Resources / COVID-19 Return to School Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.csiu.org/Page/2668
4 Okura, L. (2013, October 02). The Devastating Truth About How We Judge Other People. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/brene-brown–judgment-oprah_n_4005335