How To Feel Better And Help Your Community During These Difficult Times

These are difficult times. On March 12th, I had an interview with the district where I was applying to be a school psych intern. That week, for the most part, was before things got worse. I was still scheduled for work as a substitute teacher.

While other districts talked about school closures, it seemed like it would never happen where I live. My best friend and I were making plans to celebrate the news of our internships. That was probably the last week of real normalcy that I would personally feel for some time. 

Within a few days, my district announced it would be closed with no set return date. This meant that I didn’t know how I would complete the practicum hours that were required from me. I also found out that the school was taking on fewer interns due to the virus, so I lost my internship with my first-choice district.

Around the same timeframe, I lost my part-time work as a substitute teacher due to the school closures. It was a lot to take in at first. I was stuck without work and without an internship for fall. I’m very fortunate that my husband still had his job during this difficult period and tried to find the silver lining. I’m a naturally optimistic person and one to always find the good in the bad. 

Then a few days ago, when I thought the worse was over, I got sick. At first, it was a burning feeling in my throat and then followed by chest pains. I called my doctor and was unsure if I had COVID-19 or another viral infection.

Turns out, I have pharyngitis – which is a viral infection. Luckily, I’m happy to report each day I am feeling better. This whole experience has shifted my mindset to what’s important at the core and how important it is right now to do the things that make you feel good and a little more normal. There is not a lot we can control right now other than our outlook and how we take care of ourselves and one another during this time. 

It’s okay to not know how to be okay during such an uncertain time. I’m sure just in the last few weeks, your life has shifted in ways you couldn’t predict. Give yourself some grace and be gentle.

I can’t tell you when this will get better, although I wish I could. However, I give you permission, if you feel you need it, to not have it all together at the moment.

Here are some helpful suggestions to feel better and help in your community during this rough period: 

1. Mental Health

Please check in with yourself. Invest in a therapist if you need to and don’t feel that you need to carry the weight of everything on your own. Open Path Psychotherapy Collective offers counseling on a sliding scale. 

Apps like Shine make incorporating positivity easier. The app has daily check-ins, meditations, and uplifting articles to read. 

Verywell wrote a piece about scheduling in time to worry. We are being bombarded with news and real-time facts all the time. Give yourself a break from checking-in all day and maybe schedule a time and have a cut-off period to when you view the news. 

2. Community 

Use this time to lean into your connections. Netflix released an extension feature where you can chat with your friends in real-time while watching a movie. 

Schedule virtual dinners or game nights. 

Make time for your girlfriends over video chats. 

If you are in a relationship, try scheduling a date night as it fits your schedule. Try a new project or hobby at home. 

self-care and rest during hard times

3. Self-Care

Self-care during this time period can mean filing your unemployment benefits on time and seeing what other resources are available to you. Check-in with your local community agencies and sign up for what’s most appropriate.

If you are recently out of work and searching – try places like Flexjobs. They offer ample opportunities for virtual work in multiple fields. If you are someone who has a Bachelor’s degree and interested in teaching, look up places like VIPkid. There are also similar companies hiring for English speaking jobs. Palfish is another teaching platform that allows you to teach without a degree. 

Keep up some of your routines. If you normally do a morning routine – stick with it. For me, my morning routines have kept me a little saner. 

With gyms being closed, research at-home workouts that you enjoy. YouTube is a great resource in this case, with free workouts from companies like POPSUGAR. POPSUGAR offers workouts with or without equipment. I also love Beachbody due to its’ low cost and set programs you can follow. 

Now more than ever, it’s so important to keep up with your sleep habits. Ensure you are getting a solid night’s sleep. I use OLLY gummies that have melatonin and it helps me fall asleep at the same time each night. If you have Spotify, there are a lot of great podcasts that help with sleep (one of my favorites is “Nothing Much Happens”). 

4. Structure

I wrote another piece on productivity tips to try and I recommend checking that out to see what you can implement while you work from home.  

While I am currently not working, I am still a graduate student and still have a lot on my plate. Something I am implementing during this period is what I learned from the Shine app. It’s called 1/3/5 – 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things. My days look a bit different as I am still getting over a viral infection, but I still like to make sure I’m accomplishing what’s most important in a non-rigid way. 

5. How to give back 

  • Send out a job posting you see to a friend. 
  • If you see resources you think would be helpful, share on your social media.  
  • Support your local food bank.
  • Follow guidelines on social distancing, stay home if you are sick, and please don’t hoard food. 
  • If you are able to help, please consider donating to a non-profit during this time. 
  • Support your local school districts during this time to help students most at need. 
  • Offer assistance to at-risk neighbors buy purchasing groceries or medications for them. 
  • Sometimes just sending a friend a funny meme or letting them know you are there – is more than enough. 

Most importantly, just know that you are doing your best. Lean into the good stuff, find small joys in your day, and remember we will all get through this somehow. I’d love to hear your tips during this time period. 

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