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How parents can avoid going stir-crazy while being stuck at home

home schedule

People are struggling with boredom, the loss of freedom and uncertainty over what happens next.

As Americans are being asked to stay home during the coronavirus outbreak, many are learning first-hand the definition of stir-crazy — feeling “distraught because of prolonged confinement.”

Communities areasking people to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19. Some people must stay at home for 14 days if they were potentially exposed to someone with the disease.

We’re surrounded by pantries full of food, movies on demand and loved ones in the next room or online, so why would sitting at home for a few weeks be such a challenge?

1. Focus on the good you’re doing for others.

Always remember: You are doing your part in protecting the vulnerable people in your neighborhood and community who are at risk for the severe form of COVID-19.

2. Maintain a daily structure.

It’s a good idea to keep a similar schedule to the one you had before the outbreak began: Wake up at a consistent time, get dressed, eat when you would normally eat, make time for exercise and stick to the lifestyle you always had, assuming it’s a healthy one, Rego advised.

In other words, don’t sit in pajamas all day and overeat or drink alcohol excessively. Turning to substances to cope could be problematic in both the short and long term, he warned.


3. Start a journal

Documenting these strange times could be both memorable and therapeutic. When you look back at the Great Quarantine of 2020, it may be hard to believe all these things actually happened. As you’re living through historic events now, there’s a lot to process.

“It’s helpful to put those worries on paper,” Rego said. “Also use it to practice balanced thinking… what you don’t want is a running log that takes an overly negative and pessimistic view because then reviewing that and re-reviewing that can prime you for rumination, which can backfire and bring down your mood.”

4. Keep a realistic and objective view

“Our mind may create scenarios where it seems like doing this may be forever,” Rego said.

Resist thinking this way. Stay informed by getting your information from reliable, trusted sites and question rumors.

5. Tackle all those projects you’ve been putting off.

Start a garden, update your resume, tackle some home improvement projects, write a book or let Marie Kondo help you get rid of clutter. Consider this an opportunity to do something productive.

“Capitalizing on the opportunities rather than focusing on the threats makes a big difference,” Rego said.

6. Deepen your relationships.

Stay in touch with friends and loved ones via chat, text, FaceTime and other tech tools. If you are lonely, ask your doctor about tele-therapy or find an online group that’s offering support.

“We can, if we are thoughtful and deliberate about it, still maintain our social support networks,” Rego noted. Just be sure to contact people who are actually supportive and helpful rather than those who may unwittingly amplify your stress, he advised.

If your entire family is staying at home, it’s an opportunity to connect in ways that might otherwise get pushed aside during the business of everyday activities

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Healthy at Home Parent The Today Show