The recent days have given us a lot of stress due to the dynamically changing situation and WHO updating the coronavirus pandemic. Our everyday lives suddenly changed. Educational and shopping centres were closed. Parents were obliged to stay at home with their children and at the same time had to face a great challenge, integrating remote work with their children's remote education. There is no doubt that the restrictions that have been introduced are necessary, which does not change the fact that our constant rhythm and rituals were suddenly changed, and thus our sense of security was disturbed, and the question may appear in our minds: how long will this last and what will happen next?
We can make many suppositions about the future, but will these help us deal with the new situation? It is definitely worth preparing for the next changes and possible restrictions. It is important that we keep the balance between common sense, calmness and a rational approach to the new situation.
What can help us then? Plans. Daily schedules, weekly schedules. Predictability makes us feel more secure and we have a sense of control over our lives. We have no influence on some issues, but they are things that we can and even should do, make it work better. Helplessness is one of the most difficult states that a person must face because it leaves us with a feeling that we have no influence on anything. In any situation, however, much depends on ourselves and our approach to it. It is worth trying to look from a different perspective, looking for new opportunities, verifying priorities, freeing new resources.
Let's start with the daily plan. Until recently, the lives of most of us followed a certain, rather stable pattern. However, what was obvious until recently has now ceased to apply. We are currently experiencing a situation in which we need to adapt to new, temporary conditions. You need to create a new plan. Think about what tasks we have, responsibilities to be fulfilled, what conditions they require (whether they must be carried out at a certain time of the day, or can be at any time), including people who require constant care and supervision (e.g. small children). It's best to write everything down on a piece of paper. We also need to evaluate our resources - the number of people at home, their availability (whether they work or study remotely, how much time they need to do it, and how much time they have leftover). You may need to share the care of the youngest family member with another adult, determine the scope of household responsibilities, take advantage of mutual assistance in carrying out larger tasks. An interesting idea may be to divide the apartment/house into different zones, e.g. work zone (where silence applies), play zone, relax zone. Nothing prevents the work area from being transformed in the afternoon, e.g. into a relaxation area, where you can relax from the noise with gentle music. Exceptional conditions require exceptional solutions.
It is very important to wake up preferably at the same time every day, which on the one hand will give us a sense of stability, and on the other hand, we will have a better chance of accomplishing all the tasks that we must fulfil. It turns out that the other aspects of our lives - the tasks we have to accomplish – remain the same, only the circumstances have changed and force us to act differently. We should also remember that our body copes more effective with challenges when it has a constant rhythm and the appropriate proportions of time spent on work, rest and sleep.
Plan of the week. We don't have to all things immediately, but to remember about them, it's good to include them in your weekly plan. To make it easier to control everything and to make the plan of the week more clear, you can write/draw, e.g. in the form of a mind map, divided into days, tasks, responsibilities for each family member, etc. You can create a command point (children will probably gladly engage in such activity), where all-important for the family conversations and decisions will be made. Thanks to the weekly plan, we can avoid at least some unpleasant surprises, like skipping an important task, when someone finds that his tasks are less important than others. When we are including children in creating our plan, listening to what they have to say, their needs and ideas, we certainly give them several important messages: you are an important part of our family, we take care of you, we respect you, we have a common plan and we will implement it, and if needed we will modify it together. Such cooperation may turn out to be an interesting way of spending time, can create an opportunity to get to know each other better and experience some new circumstances together. Staying in such dialogue may also reduce the level of anxiety of children (who will see that adults know what to do, they don’t panic, they look for solutions) as well as for adults (because they will create space and the opportunity to carry out tasks resulting from fulfilling various roles - parent, employee, supervisor, husband, wife, child, etc.).
It is important to check the current situation, which is now changing dynamically because it has a direct impact on our lives. However, we should rely only on trusted facts, avoid tracking the content provided by portals that spread unverified information, often of a gossip nature. Such content can be harmful to us. Awareness of changes and challenges that await us will help us to face the new situation. The anxiety can be as well transformed into a constructive mobilization of our energy and resources.
What is worth remembering in the upcoming days and weeks is to be more forgiving towards yourself and your loved ones. Difficult times triggers difficult emotions, which we are not always able to control enough. However, we should keep remembering the magical power of the words 'I'm sorry' and 'I need you'. Let's be together, support each other and look for good solutions together.
Agnieszka Bystra-Grabowska, psycholog
Urszula Rodzik, pedagog
Katarzyna Topór, psycholog