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A Beginner’s Guide to Quarantine

by Lex Gavin | | Posted under Afterschool and Summer News, School's Out News

A Beginner’s Guide to Quarantine: How adults can avoid freaking out and focus on supporting young people to not freak out


Quarantine isn’t an experience many of us are familiar with. Maybe you’re trying to keep your kids engaged in learning while tending to their needs in the midst of massive upheaval. Perhaps you are a youth development worker who needs to completely re-imagine your program structure to serve young people remotely. You might just be a person, living through a global pandemic. How are you supposed to handle it all? 



1. Take a deep breath


No, really. Take a deep breath, filling your belly instead of just your chest. Exhale slowly. 

This is an experience that is stretching and straining all of us in completely unexpected ways. Self-care isn’t selfish (1)— as they say on airplanes, you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you help others. Take an inventory of how to replenish and nourish yourself. Are you getting enough sleep? Drinking enough water? Taking breaks from the news? This all has a cumulative impact on your wellbeing. 


If you are struggling and need food, financial support, health care, or other basic needs, stop reading and go to our Resource Guide to find help. These strategies cannot be effective when your fundamental needs aren’t met! 


2. Honor the feelings


What is the “right” feeling to have during a global pandemic? It’s normal to feel anxious, scared, irritable, sad, dazed… kids could be acting more clingy than usual, or be withdrawn, or confrontational. We are allowed to be feeling things! Regardless of how much or how little COVID is affecting you, the whole world is experiencing a collective crisis. No one is at their best in a crisis (2). We are grieving— the loss of life, loss of security, of social connection, of our sense of normal. Make space to identify, name, and express our emotions, and to digest the stress that’s all around usHow we soothe anxiety looks different than boredom looks different from grumpiness, and all feelings deserve acknowledgement and respect. 



3. Talk openly about coronavirus with young people

A climate of uncertainty and fear becomes even more confusing if we don’t acknowledge it. Kids need to understand what’s happening— and it’s our responsibility to communicate accurate information to them without adding worry or panic. Addressing what we’re all experiencing helps promote trust, and prevents adults from burdening kids with our anxieties. You don’t have to have all the answers, but a willingness to learn together keeps the conversation going. 



4. Create predictability

Young people need structure and clear limits in order to thrive (3). This is certainly true under normal circumstances, so it’s even more important when things are Not Normal. Making a schedule can re-establish routine and certainty in all of our lives. It’s ok if your plan isn’t written in calligraphy or doesn’t have every minute scheduled. Start small. Maybe predictability looks like starting every morning with the same TV show, or a quesadilla every day for lunch. Maybe it’s a virtual field trip every Friday, as something to look forward to. Aim for at least one hour outside every day. Make space for lots of rest, which can help us stay emotionally (4) and physically (5) well. Routine doesn’t have to mean regimented. 



5. Savor the bright spots

People all across the globe are coming together across geography, language, and culture to help and support each other. Our communities are working tirelessly to make sure our neighbors are cared for. Doctors, nurses, researchers, and scientists are engaged in massive efforts to respond to this medical crisis. Hold on to the good in the world, and in your life. Maybe you’re spending more time cuddling your pets. Maybe the sunset is beautiful this evening. Maybe you belly laughed at something no one else would appreciate. Taking stock of positive things benefits your health (6), and helps balance out our days. We’re all in this together. 



More self-care strategies, activities to do with kids, and so much more can be found in our Youth Development Resource GuideCheck it out, and let us know if you are looking for more info on a particular topic. Take good care! You got this!! 


1. Why Taking Care of Your Own Well-Being Helps Others - Greater Good Science Center, UC Berkeley
2. Reactions to Crisis and Trauma - Derived from the International Critical Incident Stress Foundation
 3. Creating Structures and Rules - Center for Disease Control (also available in Spanish) 
4. Dream sleep takes sting out of painful memories - UC Berkeley
5. How Sleep Affects Your Immunity - National Sleep Foundation
6. The Power of Positive Thinking - Johns Hopkins Medicine

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