With the coronavirus-COVID-19 situation changing daily, and experts now saying we may have to practice social distancing and isolation for months, Point in Time in Haliburton is providing advice to families.

Executive director Marg Cox said it’s important to structure the time when you go to media for updates on the pandemic. She said people should not be scrolling through social media all day long or watching continuous television coverage.

“The more people get into it, and get focused on it, the more it ramps up that anxiety,” she said.

Instead, she suggests structuring the time when you get updates, for example, tuning in once a day to the daily press conference with the prime minister.

To further mitigate anxiety, she said it is important to reach out to people by using technology that allows face-to-face interaction.

“What we know is, if you are actually able to see their face, through Zoom, or Facetime or Skype, that really has much better calming qualities than just talking on the phone or texting or emailing,” she said.

The other challenge is parents and families are now experiencing a lack of structure in their lives, with parents not working or working from home, and children out of school. For that reason, Cox said it’s important for families to establish routines. She added it should be face-to-face, whether it’s family meal times or playing board games. She said families should discuss the day’s structure in the morning and stick to it, also incorporating outside time and physical activity. She also advises playing, or singing, uplifting music.

Cox said another thing to keep in mind, “is you can never start meditating too young.” She encourages parents to meditate as an example for their children, and to teach them how to do it themselves, even having a family meditation time.

If parents are stressed, she said children are going to pick up on that quickly, so it is important to lead by example. That includes good self-care. She said parents also need to be kind to themselves. She said it’s okay to have lowered expectations and recognize what they are accomplishing, such as good interactions with their children that day, helping them feel grounded, doing their own self-care, and exercising.

If people are having real difficulties coping, they can ring Point in Time, which is still offering services. Cox said for most people, change and unknowns are two very difficult things to deal with. Add to that mix uncertain financial situations due to coronavirus-related layoffs and waiting for government support, is a real challenge, she said.

However, she believes County residents are resilient. “Look at the seasons that we deal with, and the level of snowfall and power outages, and geographic isolation. I know we can do it. I know it’s tough. We do need to find out ways to reach out to each other.”

She said helping others not only helps them, but ourselves. “If they can do something for somebody else. Acts of giving or kindness or reaching out. Checking on your neighbours. Those kinds of things help people in the community but also those who are doing it. And we know that feeling good helps boost immunity.”

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