In Part I and Part II of the COVID-19 Survival Series, we have discussed the importance of Structure and Kinship (Core Group) as outlined by Dr. Bruce Perry and their relevance in establishing Predictable, Moderate, and Controllable environments for learning and developing resilience. We have also recognized the core concept that we are social in our nature. In Part III of our series, we are addressing Socialization, a challenge in our present world where self-isolating is the suggested norm, and its effects on the individual and on the community as a whole.
Babette Rothschild, a clinician who works with people and communities who have undergone trauma, describes this social nature as “our relations are woven in, around, and through the fabric of our beings and entwined in everything that we do.”
Hopefully the discussion of the first two tools in our tool kit have taught the following about relationships:
1. Learning happens in the context of relationships and that within the context of social bonds, we develop the motives and the values that guide our lives.
2. What we learn in the context of those relationships impacts outcomes. Our individual community and national responses to the COVID-19 crisis has made this very clear.
3. Building positive, trustworthy, and safe relationships in our family, our clan, and our community is essential for the growth, creativity, and resilience of each of these domains.
4. When you are connected, you feel protected and capable of new learning, discovery, and exploration. When you experience physical or social threats, new learning is not possible.
The sense of care and connection figures predominately in our well-being. Positive social relationships are better predictors of well- being than economical or biological factors and serve as buffers to life’s trials. Perceiving others as social threats undermines feelings of social connection, activates our Stress Response System, impairs our ability to learn, cooperate, face, and adapt together to stresses and can create a negative bias looking out into the world.
When under stressors that are UNPREDICTABLE, EXTREME, and UNCONTROLABLE, it is easy for the road to hell to be paved with good intentions. Many of the neural networks involved in experiences of physical threat and safety are also attuned to social threat. Social support reduces both physical and social pain. Rejection, exclusion, and dismissal in our social networks over time are painful and limiting to the individual and to the community.
The ability to learn and develop social and cognitive skills requires practice, hard but rewarding work and pro social attitudes. Wellbeing for ourselves and our community is hard and meaningful work and requires team work.
We, at NAMI CC&I, are very fortunate to have so many individual and community connections and alliances with whom to work in our efforts to foster well-being in the Cape and island communities.
Reaching out and socially connecting for individual benefit or for the benefit of the community is a challenge during this period of pandemic. The following resources offer ways for people of all ages to continue to socialize during COVID-19 restrictions, both for the good of their own mental wellness and for the health of the community as a whole.
Dr. James McGuire, NAMI CC&I Board of Directors
( Parts I and II of the COVID-19 Survival Kit can be found on our web site-www.namicapecod.org)
PART III Helpful Links
Generosity and kindness can be taught
Respect -- and nurture -- your child's natural inclinations to do good
Children help because it feels good
Giving kids prizes and toys for helping isn't such a good idea.
Kid’s President 25 Reasons to Be Thankful
Life is tough. It’s important to remember the things that are awesome.
Activities to Help Your Autistic Child (or any child) with Social Skills
Help with idioms
Stay on topic
Children: Giving Back
Promotes positive self-esteem and a sense of purpose
Improves a person’s ability to manage stress
Increases self-confidence and promotes positive behaviors
Helps introduce children to positive role models who may provide positive encouragement and support
Ways to Give Back
donate toys, send a kindness card to healthcare workers or community services people, etc.
perform a service: yard work or dispose trash for an elderly neighbor, offer to babysit or do childcare
Family Connect-Being Thoughtful in COVID (spiritual message)
Provides thought provoking questions that help you look for the joyful even when things are hard.
Families are encouraged to try activities they have not done together before COVID e.g. keep a COVID journal, write something you did as a family everyday and take a picture. Keep it as a record for your children.
Keep Connected with Your Neighborhood from Your Sidewalk, Front Door or Driveway
Play bingo using a megaphone
Say hello at night by switching your lights on and off
Lead each other into singing familiar songs
Turn up some music, dance like no one is watching
Exchange jokes with each other
Donate your time outside the home:
Blood Bank Centers, Food Banks, Homeless Shelters and Meals on Wheel
Run errands for elderly
When out and about, smile at people
Donate Your Time From Home
Virtual babysit depending on child’s age, offer divergent activities so parents can get work done
Go to Points of Light Volunteers to find out what you can do
Use Facebook/social media to create a help line
10 Proven Ways to Stay Connected During the Pandemic
Humorous approach to not feeling isolated
1. Don’t panic
2. Take pleasure in your own hands
3. Say hello—don’t ignore each other
4. Make a list—who are you connected with? Start with who you are most connected with and end with who you are connected with the least, then contact that person
5. Dance like nobody’s watching
6. Break bread together—cook with someone in your house
7. Connect with nature—go outside, notice what’s near you
8. Feel it with music
9. Always play everywhere—do something silly in a place you normally would not
10. Reach out to your tribe/community—we are all social creatures, it’s natural
COVID-19 Wellbeing Tips for Teens with Dr. Watson Clinical Psychologist
This video provides teens with strategies they can use to stay calm, focused, and motivated while everything around them is changing and uncertain. You will learn tools for soothing feelings like fear, confusion, and boredom; staying focused and hopeful; and choosing actions that support wellbeing in both the short and long term.
How Young People Can Cope
Researchers argue that one-way young people can combat mental health struggles is to try to deliberately savor ordinary, everyday experiences by using the five senses to amplify positive emotions and promote a sense of calm. This is pretty much the opposite of what some of us are doing when we spend hours a day consuming COVID-19 news, which can hurt our mental health. Researchers also highlight the crucial role of human connection and social support. Finding ways to stay connected and give and receive support can help combat the traumatic experiences many are facing due to this global pandemic.
5 Things You Can Do to Help Young Adults Cope with Social Distancing
· give emotional space
· have grateful moments
· encourage a schedule
· make regular connections
· promote sleep & physical activity
10 Ways Young People are Leading the Way Against COVID-19
Women Deliver Young Leaders perform vital work on the frontlines of the pandemic response
Does your neighborhood have a Face Book Group or a group email? Ask to join and see what fun activities you can share.
One neighborhood put shamrocks in their windows for kids to find while walking.
Another neighborhood promoted themed sidewalk drawing competitions for different age groups or families.
Use a video chat app to make a game night, dinner party or coffee date
Make a good old fashion phone call
Snail mail, write a note or send a card
Create and follow a daily routine, try to include regular daily activities such as walk the dog or pick-up the kids
Check in on your loved ones often
8 Ways You Can Help Your Community Amid the COVID-19 Crisis
Give Five Wave Five
Give $5.00 to a local food bank when food shopping
Transition to Donati(on)
Use the money you’re saving on gas to buy gift certificates for local restaurants
Conversations With Dogs
Nod your head, say hello when you walk by people.
Wholesale Order Up!
Order from local wholefood sellers who are losing some or all of their business
Masks for All
Collect and donate unused N95 masks
Making sure we can do either curbside pickup or contactless delivery
The start of something new
Staying Connected/Giving Back
· Call 10 people a week you know are alone (get a list from your church or senior center if necessary)
· Stick to a routine: exercise, reach out, read, mediate, do a word search or puzzle, eat a regular meal
· Get a new hobby: buy a bird feeder and book about birds, genealogy, photography or another new hobby.
· Sit at your front door or window and wave hi to your neighbors
· Call your grandchild or neighbor’s child and read a story over the phone
· Call a friend and watch a movie together or have a cup of tea
· Have a curbside social hour bring your chair to the driveway and have a fun visit
· Buy and/or deliver groceries to other seniors that are homebound
· Volunteer opportunities, the Smithsonian Institute, help transcribe important documents, and StoriiTime connects senior readers with children via video call in the US, Canada & UK. (https://www.storiitime.com/)
Pen Pal or Phone Friend
Connect to patients in assistant living centers who have been in lock downs to stop the spread of COVID.
RESILIENCY AND THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC: The Hidden Strengths of Those with Lived Tip Sheet Experience of Mental Health Conditions
6 Ways to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills
Steps parents can take:
· Follow their interest
· Learn to ask questions
· Practice role-playing
· Teach empathy
· Know your child’s limits
· Be a good role model
Here are 17 research-inspired social skills activities for kids, organized loosely according to age-group. It begins with games suitable for the youngest children, and ends with social skills activities appropriate for older kids and teens.
How Can I Stay Connected with Others During COVID-19 While Distancing Myself Physically?
Validate it’s a challenge to stay connected. Try to talk to someone outside your home every day.
It’s a sign of stress, if you’re finding you do not have energy to respond to people that are checking on you each day. That may be the time to reach out to a friend or therapist.