PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Our daily lives are quickly changing. From school closures to working from home, many Americans are having to adjust their day-to-day routines due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Dr. Frank Farley is a psychologist and professor of psychological studies at Temple University. He talked with Eyewitness News about some ways to cope with the anxiety we may be feeling.
1) With students out of school these next few weeks, regular schedules are being changed and interrupted. How important is it to establish a new routine?
Well, obviously you are going to have to establish a new routine. You have no options. And it is very important. There are several things to keep in mind. You know, the kids will be at home. That could be a real problem for a single parent family, and the one parent is still working out of the home, away from home. So that’s going to be very difficult to navigate. Kids will have to keep the important routines, like their health routines, their eating, their sleeping, and so on, you got to keep those regular and healthy. But they’re going to be at home most of the time and so you’re going to have to come up with some things that are different, some variety, to keep them interested, to keep them active. So, it is going to be very challenging.
2) For kids, who are having trouble understanding what’s happening and why it is happening – what should you do to address their worries and fears?
Well, number one is be calm, be reassuring, be available to talk with them about these matters, and it is important to know what the school told them, you know, if the school closed you should know what the school told them, so that you don’t contradict what the school said. But, for the very youngest kids, you know, I would keep the media coverage of this away from them. They don’t need to know all of the gory details, if you will, about this. For the older kids, middle school maybe, teens, tweens, you could get into discussions about this phenomenon. But, you know, for all of them, you can talk about the fact that around the world people are getting sick, some people due to being close together, physically close together, and so it is important to control that, to not have large groups, and that’s why the school is closing. And describe that this will take care of it, them staying at home for awhile, so they’ll be OK.
3) We are all being told to practice social distancing. For those feeling isolated or lonely, any suggestions?
If you know they’re very sociable kids, say, extroverted sociable, outgoing kind of kids, it will be pretty difficult. However, there is social media. Most school kids are active in that way, in one way or another, so they can stay in touch with their friends. The telephone still is good, talking to their friends by phone or by social media, by using the devices.
Keeping people emotionally healthy through this crisis is critical and there are lots of online resources and hotlines for people to call.
You can call a free 24-hour Disaster Distress Helpline from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), at 1800-985-5990, if you feel lonely or need support.
Crisis Chat: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text MHA to 741741
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 for free, confidential crisis counseling 24/7
IMAlive: online chat service at imalive.org
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-950-NAMI (6264)