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10 Tips for Coping with Quarantine

Ella Herlihy

Family Inspiration, Money, & Jobs

We are all facing different challenges in this new normal. 

The changes affecting our daily lives- such as, stay at home, don’t eat out, school online, and our wondering what will happen to the economy, is enough stress for several lifetimes. We all know we have dealt with difficult things in the past. But somehow we forget to remind ourselves that we are capable of doing hard things now. It is vital to go back to what we know works. Nothing new under the sun – just a reminder to each of us to do what we know is right for us.

In case you are overwhelmed (who isn’t), here are a few reminders of what we know works to reduce stress and build our mental health during difficult times. 


Think about how you can be a model for your children and have gentle discussions with them. Show them how they can successfully walk through a tough time. These skills will be ones they return to over and over throughout their lives when faced with uncertainty. What you do today matters. For you and for those around you.

1- Stay in the moment. None of us know how this will truly affect our economy, jobs, school, etc. So there is no point in catastrophizing and imagining all the scenarios that might or might not happen. If you need to turn off the news, do it. You know you can only control yourself and your immediate environment. So stay focused on that.

2- Infuse yourself with the positive. Meditation, prayer, yoga, reading, and talking to those who encourage all, can keep your mind on what helps. Protect yourself from negative people, tv, radio, newspapers, or social media. Pretend you have a fence around you and only open the gate for the people or influences that pull you up not bring you down. If a family member or co-worker you must be around is one of these negative influences, think of ways to limit your contact with that person and prepare yourself with good boundaries before you must interact.

3- Follow a schedule or checklist. This does not have to be hour by hour. Even a loose checklist of what you want to include in your day will help you make sure you are caring for yourself well. Exercise, healthy meals, time for positive mental intake (reading, a guided meditation, a favorite playlist, time for prayer), something productive – your job, or household task, time for relationships (face to face and virtual) can be a part of your list. You can block off time for each or you can go with your own flow while choosing the next right thing from your list. Don’t compare your list to others’. You can get ideas from friends and family, but your schedule should reflect what is good for you.

4- Time with your people. If you have young children, find time to fully engage with them early on. They will feel filled up and be less needy if you can give them your full attention for a bit first. Elementary age children will need your guidance for their schoolwork and activities but they also need some time for snuggling or reading aloud or playing a game. Those prickly middle schoolers may act like they don’t want to be around you, but keep trying. Do they want to teach you how to play their favorite video game, or could they show you all their favorite memes while you sit on the couch? Same for high schoolers. They are all facing an unprecedented level of anxiety. Uncertainty with so many aspects of school, sports, and summer jobs, all without their friends by their sides. What can you do with your teen? It is so much easier to have a discussion while walking, biking, playing cards or even a video game. Side by side instead of face to face. See if they will exercise with you. Offer to take them for drive through breakfast or coffee and then enjoy them in the car. Let them drive – or practice driving. It may take some effort, but find ways to spend some time together.

5- Family time. With the absence of evening activities, make a concerted effort to eat dinner together as a family.  If you can, ask a fun question or get a discussion going about something (This or that? Ice cream or cake? Soccer or football? Beach or mountains?), everyone needs a chance to just talk. If you can carve out time to play a game, take a family walk, or even sit at the table and write a few cards or notes to family members, you will all be grateful for the benefits.

6- Find a project. Whether it is cleaning your entire house from top to bottom, decluttering every closet and cabinet, repainting and upgrading your teenager’s room or learning how to bake the best cookie EVER, you have some time and you will feel better if you make good use of it. Don’t “should” on yourself. I noticed my own list of what I thought I would accomplish (all of the above) made me feel terrible after the first two weeks when I hadn’t done any of it. Then when I gave myself grace, I found the energy to clean out my bookshelves and find books to give to the local homeless shelter.  I have been baking bread and found a new recipe to try. I am enlisting my children to take on a cleaning chore each day to help me feel like we are moving in a positive direction. Don’t overdo it. Just find something you can do – and give yourself a bonus if it is something you can do with one or more of your children (or your spouse).

7- Get outside. Every day. This is a non-negotiable. If you like walking, walk. If you can run, please go do it – it not only helps your own mental health, but it encourages others and gives hope that this whole situation is temporary. If you can’t exercise, grab a blanket or chair and just sit and read outside or turn your face to the sun for a few minutes and listen to the birds or lawnmowers or the sound of the absence of traffic. Notice the breeze, the temperature, the sounds, the smells (sorry if you are allergic to pollen). Nature is so calming and incredibly beneficial to our bodies and minds.

8- Be creative. Art, crafts, music, acting… How can you utilize the power of your creative side? Gather up a basket of craft supplies and designate an hour for your kids to create. You can guide them with a video or Pinterest post ahead of time, or you can just let them have at it. If they are normally in theater or dance, help them make a video showcasing their talents. Have them create a new dance or memorize a chunk of lines from their favorite movie and turn it into a video for the grandparents.

9- Self-care for all. It is super important at this time to model self-care for our children and spouses, which means you have to take care of yourself first and do it in a way that they can see (or you can tell them – last night I took a bubble bath because it is so relaxing to me). What would it look like to make a little self-care kit for each of your family members (or ask them to get a bag or basket and make one for themselves). Even in your own home, I’ll bet you have all the ingredients. What about collecting a few of these for each person and sharing with them: bubble bath, nail polish or face mask, lotion, coloring book or printed internet coloring pages with markers or colored pencils, an empty journal or notebook, some clay or Thinking Putty, a CD player with CD’s from the past, stationery and stamps, favorite snacks, printed recipes and a promise the ingredients are in the kitchen. Think of how loved your family members will feel if they were to receive such a cool curated gift.

10- Find a way to serve others. I know this is more complicated with social distancing, but it is not impossible. Be creative and think about what feels rejuvenating to you. Our family has baked bread and delivered to our neighbors. We have shopped for those who are elderly or have small children. We cleaned up our neighborhood park at the end of the street – picking up and bagging trash and sticks. There are food drives and opportunities to donate to those in need. You can also come up with something fun for kids in your neighborhood – paint some rocks and hide them (in easy to see places) and leave a note or neighborhood Facebook/email post to tell kids to try to find the 10 colored rocks in your yard (but to leave them for the next person). You can get your kids to decorate the sidewalk with chalk creating positive quotes or even an obstacle course to do as they walk by your house. There is such power in getting outside ourselves and doing something that blesses someone else.

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Ella Herlihy

Being a mom to five children has given Ella Herlihy enough mistakes and victories to fuel her passion for guiding other parents along the road to raising responsible children without losing their minds in the process. She writes to help others learn from her many mistakes and victories, and what she has gleaned from all the books and seminars it takes to raise five children in today’s world. She is currently working on a book to encourage parents to choose to step back so their kids can move forward on the path to unentitled adulthood. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram @ Ella Herlihy.