Without a doubt, the directive to stay at home is disrupting families’ daily routines. Parents are learning how to work from home while home-schooling their kids. Warm days are causing an increase in cabin fever. The allure of screen time is wearing off and being home together 24/7 is affecting everyone’s moods.
We know we’re flattening the curve, but the days are long. How can families survive not only the virus, but each other?
The team at Liberty Hospital is providing ways for families to emotionally and physically navigate the coronavirus quarantine, starting with mental health.
“As time goes on, people may experience an increase in anxiety, extreme frustration, depression or low mood,” said Melanie Palma, nurse practitioner with Liberty Hospital Primary Care Shoal Creek. “Now is the time to sit down together and discuss what’s working and what’s not. Then set some guidelines, including for screen time. Also, let children discuss their fears and speak truthfully about the situation in an age-appropriate manner.”
Palma suggests maintaining a daily routine, but remaining flexible to keep from becoming frustrated. Increased screen time is normal, but too much screen time can negatively affect mood.
For a change of pace that increases endorphins and triggers a positive feeling, Alex Phillips, strength and conditioning coach at Liberty Hospital Sports Medicine, recommends easy movements for boosting general health and wellness. No special equipment is needed to try these at home.
Exercises recommended include:
• body squat — 20 reps;
• push-up or knee push-up — 10 reps;
• planks — 30 seconds;
• pull Is, Ys & Ts shoulder and arm exercises — five reps; and
• glute bridges — 20 reps.
Additionally, both Liberty Hospital Sports Medicine and the trainers at Aurora Health and Wellness Center at Norterre are offering free helpful exercise videos on YouTube available to everyone.
When you’re hungry after a good workout, Jessica Chavez, Liberty Hospital diabetes education coordinator, suggests some tips for healthy cooking together.
“Start by increasing fiber with snacks like trail mix with nuts, veggies with hummus or peanut butter or fresh fruits with yogurt dips,” Chavez said. “You can also package healthy snacks in baggies so they’re preproportioned and easy to grab.”
Recommended family activities centered on mealtime include:
• Color coordinate — Assign each person a specific color of food to make.
• Food groups — Challenge each person to focus on a specific food group. For example, Ann makes veggies, John makes meat, Katie makes fruit and Spencer makes dessert.
• My favorite food — Take turns making and sharing each person’s favorite food and let them talk about it.
“Involving everyone in the kitchen can help increase the likelihood of everyone trying healthy, new foods,” Chavez said.
Check in with others
Laura Mullennix of Norterre reminds people that reaching out beyond their front door to check on others is important. Seniors who are isolated alone are at risk for greater health concerns, especially when community support and services may not be operating.
Ways to help seniors stay safe include:
• Use phone, FaceTime or other means to communicate as often as possible.
• Actively listen for signs of distress.
• Offer to grocery shop so seniors won’t put themselves at risk.
• Sign up for Meals on Wheels to ensure proper nutrition.
• Consider using private companies such as Home Instead or Right at Home for companion or light housekeeping services.
For more resources for seniors, contact Clay County Senior Services and the Area Agency on Aging.
Staying safe when out
If you must venture out, don’t forget the basics:
• wash your hands often;
• use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol; and
• maintain social distance of at least 6 feet away from others.
If someone in your family develops symptoms during quarantine, isolate them to a specific room or area of the house and reach out to your primary care physician for next steps. Finally, make the Clay County Public Health Center your go-to resource for the latest updates and facts, including when it’s safe to end the quarantine.