Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time. Schedule time for work as well as self-care.
“Chunk” your quarantine. Move through stress one chunk at a time. People with anxiety around overwhelming issues learn to engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on bite-sized pieces of a challenge that feels manageable.
Find and dive into a long-term project. Learn how to bead or make traditional baskets, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, paint a picture or binge-watch an eight-season show. Engage in activities that will keep you busy for longer periods of time.
Stay hydrated and eat well. Stress and eating don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, enjoy traditional foods like fish, wild rice, and berries. Find a new recipe or cook a meal you’ve been craving.
Get showered and get dressed. Use traditional medicines or aromatic lavender in a bath or enjoy a DIY facial. Lay down tobacco and/or smudge with sage. Wearing bright, colorful and comfortable clothing can impact your mood.
Find something you can control, and take control of your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet or put together furniture. The possibilities are endless.
Practice radical self-acceptance. Lower expectations, fear, and stress by not doing too many things in a short period of time. Take your time and radically accept everything about yourself, your situation in life without question, blame or pushback. Accept that you are truly doing your best under quarantine.
Get out of the house at least once a day for at least thirty minutes. Connect with mother earth by hiking at a community or state park. Practice social distancing by going out first thing in the morning, or later in the evening and avoid popular gathering places. If you are at high risk of becoming sick, open the windows. Fresh air can raise even the lowest of spirits.
Find time to move daily for at least thirty minutes. Search YouTube videos for a Zumba or yoga class and if all else fails, turn up the radio and dance like no one is watching. Here is a link for the Pow-wow Sweat Channel. Learn how to traditional dance!
Repetitive and left-right movements. Repetitive movements such as knitting, beading, painting are calming and soothing. Left-right movements such as running, drumming, and skating are also effective in self-soothing and maintaining emotional balance while under distress.
Find an expressive art. Immerse yourself and your children into art. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts: beading, basket-making, weaving, drawing, dancing or singing. Engage in traditional storytelling, watch a live pow-wow on powwows.com, put on regalia and dance.
Focus on family. The demand of meeting work deadlines, homeschooling and running a sterile household is being done under confinement. It’s a scary time for adults and children. Give children your time and follow their lead, through physical touch, through play, through therapeutic books, and let them know that you are there for them.
Play! Spend extra time with children. Play is helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve. Understand that children may express strong emotions by crying. It’s normal human behavior when dealing with confinement and uncertain times. Give them a reason to play.
Gently respond to behavioral issues in children. Children rely on routines constructed by others to make them feel safe and to know what comes next. Expect increased anxiety, worries and fears, nightmares, difficulty separating or sleeping, testing limits, and meltdowns. It’s not a good time to impose behavioral plans or consequences. Be stable and focus on emotional connection.
Find a space to retreat. Help children find a place where they can go to retreat when feeling stressed. As adults, we know it is important to have an area for work and for relaxation. Build a blanket tent or fort and make it cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions.
Develop a self-care toolkit. A lot of successful self-care strategies involve a sensory component (feel, taste, smell, hear, see) such as using a soft blanket, drinking hot cocoa, or burning a scented candle while looking at old photo albums. Help your child to create a comfort box (use a shoe-box or bin they can decorate) and fill it with comforting items to use when they feel overwhelmed. Promote connectivity with Mother Earth by adding traditional medicines such as sage, sweetgrass or cedar.
Social and News Media
Limit exposure to the COVID conversation, no more than thirty minutes, no more than two to three times daily. The pandemic is a scary topic. Don’t overload yourself or your children with information on COVID-19 because it changes frequently and is often negatively skewed.
Notice the good in the world. There are lots of stories about people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. With all of the bad news, it is important to find good news to generate hope.
Keep up social contact via FaceTime, Skype or phone, for at least thirty minutes daily. Seek and provide support by connecting with relatives and friends. Set up virtual playdates for your kids using FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, etc.
Find lightness and humor in each day. Watch something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.
Give everyone the benefit of the doubt. Spending a lot of time cooped up can bring out the worst in everyone. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument and to not hold grudges or continue disagreements.
Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. The quarantine may seem like it will never end and it’s scary to not know when things will get back to normal. Remind yourself that although unusual, the quarantine is a season of life and it too will pass.
Find the lesson. What can each of us learn from this crisis? Psychologists work with trauma patients using a key feature to help them find potential positive outcomes. For instance, because of the self-isolation orders, air pollution is clearing up, waterways are becoming cleaner and we have more time to spend with our families. This could also be a good time to share traditional teachings.
Help others. Find ways to support others who are also experiencing difficult times. Check-in with relatives and elders, offer to grocery shop, listen to others who may call. No matter how big or small, helping others gives us a sense of security and control.
Reach out for help. If you need to reach out for help, your family doctors and therapists are still available to you at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are struggling to cope with the quarantine, you may find that you are seeking help for the first time. It’s okay to ask for help. Health professionals are ready to help you through this crisis.