supporting communities through the coronavirus Pandemic

Mental Health and Self-Care for Elected Leaders

As a public servant, it’s already so easy to overwork yourself and not prioritize your own mental health first. This is even more relevant during a pandemic. However, the best thing you can do for your constituents is to make sure that you take care of yourself. Here are some suggestions for actions you can take to preserve your mental health and ensure you’re up to the task of representing your constituencies in crisis.

  • Self-care. Listen to a new podcast, or watch the show you like for the billionth time. Make a playlist of relaxing songs and listen to them! Read a book you like, or take a virtual museum tour. Take time to attend a virtual worship service. It’s going to be different for everyone, but find the things that bring you comfort and take the time to do them. 

  • Set a routine. In moments of uncertainty, it may feel like things are out of control. Setting a routine to follow can help make your life feel more ordered and can calm anxieties.

    • Set and keep work hours. If you have planned to only work a certain time, keep those hours. The boundaries between work and home may have already been blurred before social distancing. Now is the time to make healthy habits. 

  • Wellness. Make sure to allow yourself the time to feel and acknowledge negative feelings. If you’re experiencing feelings of anxiousness, practice meditation, whether it be through an app, a podcast, a book, or a breathing exercise. 

  • Give yourself breaks from being updated on the news. It’s still going to be there when you get back!

  • Start a new hobby/Startup an old hobby. Having goals to achieve can help recenter yourself. Also, people are really getting into bread making now for some reason?

  • Be kind to yourself! You are doing the best you can to serve your constituency during this tough time. Remember that, and remind yourself regularly.

  • Video Therapy. If you believe you need therapy to cope with the extra stressors of this time, find the time to see a therapist. Here’s an idea of some more affordable therapy options. 

 

Learn more about wellness in this article by the Washington Post. Learn tips on how to better deal with Coronavirus anxieties at The Conversation article here

 

Socializing

Social distancing means losing a lot of our social interaction with others. That means losing not only those interactions that were planned, but also those that were unplanned or required. So, we must be more intentional about social interactions in our lives- especially with those people in our lives who can energize us or bring us out of a funk. Communicating with friends and loved ones may mean scheduling a nightly facetime dinner, or DMing someone a funny meme on Instagram. Mix up how you interact with people! Socializing with friends can be a great way to bolster your mental health. Here are some examples of how to prioritize socializing in your life.

  • Watch a movie “with” friends. Google Chrome extensions such as Netflix Party and the like help friends watch movies together at the same time in different locations. You can keep a call going or a nice text chain in the meantime.

  • Use Zoom for happy hours/dinners. Although they may not be the same as normal happy hours, making time to fix a drink at home and talk with friends/coworkers/acquaintances might be a good addition to your week.

  • Start a weekly club on Zoom or Facetime. Having a standing commitment is a good way to keep social and keep up with reading, painting, or even working out. 

  • Let people in your life know that you’re available to talk to! Some people may need someone to reach out to, and those who are most vulnerable to social isolation may not have the tools to do it themselves. Make yourself available to those who you believe might need it.

 

Read more tips on socially isolating in this Atlantic article or this Wirecutter article.

 

Physical Health

Between not having access to gyms or classes, and having to buy more pantry-safe foods, it may be difficult to be motivated to prioritize your physical health. However, taking care of your physical health is the first step to making sure you feel good mentally. In order to do that, you must take the time in your schedule to prioritize living a physically healthy life.

  • Sleep. Have a sleep schedule and stick to it. Sleep. Prioritize sleep. 

  • Exercise.

    • Schedule a daily walk outside, preferably when few people will be out as well.

    • Schedule times to work out in your calendar. Take online workout classes like those offered by Daily Burn and watch online videos. Check if your gym, or your favorite celebrity, is streaming workouts. Resources like the Peloton app are having 90 days of free classes. Even 20 minutes can make the difference and boost your endorphins!

  • Eating. In stressful times, it’s easy to A) Forget to eat, or B) Overeat. Both things are bad! If you are forgetting to eat, make sure to schedule in time to eat and plan your meals. If you’re overeating, start by creating a food journal and not eating in front of a screen (and drink more water!). By writing in a food journal, you take more time to think about how what you eat affects you - whether it makes you more energetic, more lethargic, if you’re eating because you need to eat or if you just have nothing to do. Notice what makes you feel good and keep doing it! Finding better coping mechanisms when it comes to food may be the first step in changing your mood while self-isolating. 

 

Social Distancing with Children

Being an elected official is hard enough, being an elected official with kids is hard enough, but being an elected official with kids during a health crisis is….a lot. Here are some tips on how to manage.

  • This isn’t going to be like school. And that’s okay. You aren’t a teacher. But it may also be an opportunity for expanded learning. Other than any required work your child may have, you have the space to teach your kids in new ways. You can use baking to learn about math and science, or take your kids into the garden or outside to a park. Let your kids help decide how and what they want to learn; this is a chance to let them explore what they’re genuinely interested in.

  • Have some structure. Try to set a schedule, but be willing to go with the flow of the day. Things will get off schedule, especially if you’re working. Maybe you planned on having them read, but they can’t stay focused and want to do an experiment instead. Maybe they want to paint for longer than an hour! Maybe you don’t get to start social studies today. That’s okay! However, sleep schedules shouldn’t be changed. Make sure to give them time to adapt to the change.

  • Let your kids feel what they need to. This is not only a time of change and anxieties for you, but also your kids. Give them the time and space to acknowledge those feelings in a healthy way- whether that be journaling, or time to talk about it over dinner. Learn more about how to talk to your kids about the Coronavirus here

  • Be kind to yourself! Sometimes, life will get intense. You may become impatient or need to deal with your own feelings. You may have a million other things to do but can’t. And that’s okay. Raising a kid is a job in itself and adding work on top of that is a lot for any person to deal with. This is a big change!! Acknowledge that and be kind to yourself while you’re trying to figure it out. Try not to talk to kids when you are anxious or annoyed moving forward. 

 

Read this article from the Washington Post to learn more about the pitfalls of multitasking. See more tips on how to handle a home lockdown from the Guardian in this article


 

Resources for things to do with kids

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