Catherine Norwood, LMHC

Catherine Norwood, LMHC

Catherine is a therapist, licensed foster parent, and a former foster child herself. She hopes each of the individuals she serves will be able to find meaning within themselves and in relationships with others.

I can’t explain how many clients have sat in my office as we’ve asked ourselves what kind of world we are currently living in. Fear, anxiety, worry, and confusion tend to be the first emotional responses seen and felt by those I meet with every day.

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Please note, the information in this post is not a replacement for personal medical advice.

I can’t explain how many clients have sat in my office as we’ve asked ourselves what kind of world we are currently living in. Many people relate this to a post-apocalyptic, zombie, plague take over movie. Fear, anxiety, worry, and confusion tend to be the first emotional responses seen and felt by those I meet with every day. Then we add the word quarantine… CUT!

I mean, let’s be honest. We love entertainment. We can watch movies and television shows with these kinds of themes, but we never asked to be actors starring in our own form of television drama! To make matters worse we are all stuck inside with family members!! Don’t get me wrong, we love the people we chose to marry and those cute little humans we’ve created. When we are indoors together for days on end, our spouse begins to resemble a goblin and our children act like monsters. Get me out of here!! If you’ve had this experience don’t worry, you are not alone. Below you are going to find some helpful strategies to finding all the feels and exploring all the entertainment of family quarantine in real time. Lights, camera, action… you’ll want to stick around for this.

When you think of shows, movies, and television: What gets you the most excited and interested? It’s the entertainment value! We love the laughter, the shock, the unknown and unexpected. We also love the heartwarming moments of connection. I know that COVID-19 is scary and it’s moving at speeds faster than we can catch up to it, but it is also giving us a gift! It is giving us time! It is giving us the chance to find joy and rest in our home together. We get a front row seat to humorous, heartwarming, unexpected moments. Moments otherwise occupied with work, school, sports, and extracurricular activities. We don’t get very many moments to stop, breathe, grab a bowl of popcorn and a drink and just take it all in.

5 Ways to Find Joy

  1. HAVE FUN: The media challenges us with fear. The change of pace and schedule can make us stir crazy. The fact that Starbucks drive thru’s are closing might even make the sanest person go a little mad, because of that we have to remember that we are the directors here. Are we choosing to live a drama, a horror, a comedy? The choice is up to you. Laughter is said to be the best medicine. While there is no current vaccination for COVID-19 there is a daily dose of goodness you can give yourself by learning to have fun and enjoy those that live around you. Look for the good. Get to know your son’s favorite video game or your daughter’s newest slime recipe. We have less preoccupation outside of the home, channel it into increased patience to connect with people inside the home. Cook together, dance together, play games together, get outside together, make that baby boom rumor true, you get my drift. The possibilities are endless, if we remind ourselves to have fun with this. Let’s face it, during a time of pandemic we need our family most, so let’s fight against COVID-19, not against each other.
  2. LIVE IN GRATITUDE: Did you know that you cannot simultaneously be mad, frustrated, or angry while also being thankful? Gratitude is one of the fastest ways out of a funk. When we are feeling anxious, isolated, lonely, upset, or overwhelmed we can quickly stop the thoughts that perpetuate these emotions and take ourselves to a place of gratitude. This can quickly create a change of emotion while also enhancing connection. Consider making a gratitude jar. Cut up small pieces of paper and at every meal each family member can add things they are thankful for. Save it up and pull it out at the end of this season to read back the blessings that came from this hard time) or try a quarantine chain (much like a countdown chain only in reverse. Every day you add a chain with something you are grateful for. Since we don’t know exactly how many days we will be home we will always have a memory of the things that bound us together especially when things were rough.)
  3. TAKE SPACE: Let’s be honest, we are going to be spending a lot of time around each other over these next few weeks. It is okay to need your own time and your own space. This is certainly true with introverts. Take time to do your own thing. Read, watch shows, journal, Facetime a friend. Maybe have a glass of wine (one, not the whole bottle), do a craft, watch reruns of sports (since it is pretty much your only option at this point). Go ahead and play an hour of candy crush, you do you! No one’s judging. These individual moments of refresh help increase the readiness to come back together. They are going to be even more important in moments of tension or frustration. Consider coming up with a code word so that each family member understands when it’s time to walk away. Just make sure you set a time and come back together again. Isolation isn’t helpful if it becomes a way to avoid conflict or numb the problems. If you aren’t sure how to navigate some of those messy, tense, hurt parts then maybe use some of that “you time”. Consider finding a therapist you can see from the comfort of your own home during this quarantine. We’re not so bad, and we don’t resemble the goblins or monsters in your home either.
  4. PRACTICE HOSPITALITY: Do you ever notice that when you think of others you find yourself in a better space both mentally and emotionally. Did you know getting the whole family involved brings the potential to increase this experience? Consider hanging hearts to cheer up anyone who walks by your house. Help your child become penpals with a teacher or another student in their class. Write thank you cards to hospital or emergency service staff. Send funny white elephant gifts to family members just to cheer them up. Start spring cleaning and begin bagging things to donate after this virus has run its course. Consider giving to a charity or sponsoring a child. These random acts of kindness can inspire wonderful creativity and positivity in a family unit. 
  5. GET MOVING: Every scary movie has running in it, and we are facing some scary stuff. Moving your body boosts your immune system, increases positive mental health, increases mood, and decreases laziness and fatigue. One major reason that people give up on fitness is the difficulty with finding the time. However, right now we have been given the gift of time! This is our chance to embrace it. It’s proven that 30 minutes a day is all you need to reap the incredible benefits of a fitness routine. Jump on the trampoline with your kids, but practice kegels first! Get outside on a walk or a bike ride (maintaining a safe distance between others). Start that workout program you bought in January…. of 2006 (whoops), whatever it is, just get started. Enlist the support of your spouse or your kids too because we all need some positive momentum as we begin. 

Get Your Money’s Worth

One day we will roll credits on this chapter. For that reason now is the time to ask yourself what you want to get out of today. This is your time to evaluate the kind of part you want to play. What role will you have, what value can you add and what traits will you have? Family is a gift, entertain yourselves. Sit back, relax, and enjoy life. Make sure you get what you paid. We are paying for this with our energy, our emotions, and our responses to those we love, and to our own mental health. Get your money’s worth. Let the show begin. I give it two thumbs up!

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