Now, more than any time we can remember, we have been required to stop, to slow down, and to rearrange most of our daily routines. This change has seemed to come about very quickly - almost suddenly. In the urgent call to take precautions in how we interact, in who we can see, and in not being able to go to our favorite places – we are experiencing a type of loss. I wonder if you have felt sad, worried, anxious, depressed and even afraid during these past few weeks. If so, you are not alone.
I want to share a few words about what else this time can mean for all of us. While some may describe this period as a crisis, we could also define it as an opportunity for renewal and creativeness. A minister recently shared that the Chinese characters for the word “crisis” is translated as “a dangerous opportunity”. In looking into this, I found something very interesting – this has been a misinterpretation of the syllables that make up the word “crisis”, one notably shared by many, including our former President John F. Kennedy. These symbols are better interpreted as an “incipient moment: a crucial point when something begins or changes” (Steve Nguyen, Ph.D, 2014). While the word “opportunity” is not found in the symbols used to convey crisis in Chinese, the crucial point where something begins and changes can be very useful in helping us to have a positive mindset in these difficult times. It is interesting that what I want to focus on is not “danger” but the sense that here is a crucial point in our lives (or opportunity) where we can begin to start something new, to see what can now begin – even if temporarily. This can be a time when we make and create changes that give us the ability to express what we desire and hope for– while we are also being cautious and protective.
Creating something good in this incipient time can become one of our healthy habits. I like to think of creating what is needed or wanted as a great “now” opportunity. Creativity gives us a sense of control over what we think of during this time. While there will always be things we face that are outside of our control – making use of our creativity in this present time is a remarkable change in mindset. What are some ways we can use this opportunity for good, hope, humor, fun, and service to others? Many of you have children or teens at home. School has ended for the remainder of the school year and you are now faced with confronting the world of homework in the 21st century. For many, this by itself has been a very ,,stressful experience. Yet, have there been times when you have wanted to feel closer to your children, to have meals together, to do games and activities together, to get to know and develop a new appreciation for each other? If we allow it, can this be a time when we create connections in ways we have not done in a long time, maybe connect in ways for the first time?
I am also thinking about how many of us work too hard. Can this now be a time, in our days at home, where we learn to be a little more playful, to allow ourselves to not take ourselves so seriously? In the midst of managing school and work demands, changes in employment status, and uncertainty about finances– a new mindset is definitely needed. In all of our families, in all of the diversities of our cultures, we could use a mindset of creative renewal. We can make these changes. In fact, we can do whatever we make up our minds up to do. Each day, take time to appreciate, to celebrate, and to communicate with your loved ones and friends. Finds ways to help someone, especially strangers who need to know we are all connected at levels that matter most. And, no matter what – remember that you are not alone. While we may be physically separated, we remain emotionally connected. If you need support or help with keeping a positive mental health perspective, Indianapolis has many excellent community agencies and providers ready to assist you. At Reach For Youth, our staff is providing daily
tele-mental health and crisis support services. If you would like to speak with a member of our team, please contact us at www.reachforyouth.org.
Below is a list of links of important and helpful tasks, activities, and resources for help in our days and weeks ahead. 1. NAMI COVID-19 Resource and Information Guide https://www.nami.org/covid-19-guide
2. Child Mind Institute – topics include: Coping With the Coronavirus Crisis, Autism and the Coronavirus, Managing Anxiety, Discipline and Behavior, Dealing With Loss https://childmind.org/coping-during-covid-19-resources-for-parents/
3. National Academy of Medicine – Resources to help the health and well-being of clinicians during the COVID-19 outbreak https://nam.edu/initiatives/clinician-resilience-and-well-being/clinician-well-being-resources-during-covid-19/
4. CDC-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Daily Life and Coping https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
5. Rochester Kids Out and About – 250+ Ways to Keep Your Family Sane During COVID-19 https://rochester.kidsoutandabout.com/content/250-creative-ways-keep-your-family-sane-during-covid-19-crisis
6. Indiana State Library – A Educational Toolkit https://continuinged.isl.in.gov/resource-page-covid-19-crisis/
7. Cultural Art and Education Activities for Kids and Teens https://culturela.org/programs-and-initiatives/arts-resources-during-covid-19/
8. Musicians Perform Online Concerts during COVID-19 Shutdown https://www.huffpost.com/subscribe?ncid=huffpost_globaldesk_ct6htebthyu
9. The Best of Tiny Desks Playlists – Before They Were Stars https://www.npr.org/series/761983313/tiny-desk-playlists
10. The Best-Sounding Tiny Desk Concerts, Vol. 2 https://www.npr.org/2020/03/31/822922380/the-best-sounding-tiny-desk-concerts-vol-2
11. Must See Videos! https://youtu.be/mPPJslkoC0I, https://youtu.be/mVAQl7qq-aI, https://youtu.be/Q734VN0N7hw, https://youtu.be/WgcSegx1XJU, https://youtu.be/QVdkF7ET4XA
12. One of the best for last https://youtu.be/44e12ZVh4Go
I wish you all health, peace, comfort, and renewal. Be safe and stay well!
Denise A. Senter, LMHC, Director of Mental Health and Clinical Services, Reach For Youth.