During lockdown, we went from sending our children to school, to becoming their teacher’s overnight. As we continue to navigate this challenging and ever-changing time, here are some insights to help you navigate how you work with your children at home.
Fasten your seatbelt. We’re in for a bumpy ride!
As the rollercoaster of crisis gains momentum we may find ourselves experiencing a multitude of responses and feelings. However, before you seat yourself there are usually a few rules which are communicated for your safety. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden one, but if I remember correctly, it usually follows the idea of – remain seated for the duration of the ride, ensure safety belt is secured properly, keep hands and feet inside the cart at all times, etc.
How can you get through a crisis?
Each person’s journey through crisis will be different, and this post is not a one-size-fits-all or a total solution, and professional consultation is recommended if you find yourself overwhelmed. These 3 steps will assist you in being able to identify where you are at and taking a step in the right direction towards resolution.
- STOP – Breathe. Ground yourself.
While this won’t get you off the rollercoaster in reality, you need to take a moment withdraw from the crazy, quieten your body and mind and take a ‘snap-shot’ of where you are at.
Practically this may mean withdrawing for an hour or so to think and reflect. You may need to do this daily – or more often.
- Take a walk (under lockdown, without a garden space this might not be an option)
- Go into a room alone (again depending on your space – you may just need to sit in a space and ask family members to leave you alone for a few moments. Or you may need to do this when everyone is sleeping)
- Breathe deeply and slowly
- Practice mindfulness – use your body senses to ground yourself in reality (hear, feel, see, smell what is around you at present).
- Meditate or pray – be attentive and intentional about what you are thinking about – bring your scattered thoughts to one idea
- ASSESS – Recognise what has changed and your understand your current reality
In view of the roller coaster, you need to get a still photograph of the scene. With an external perspective you are able to see things differently and with clarity and begin to wade through the various elements that need to be tackled. Use the questions from my previous blog post “In case of emergency…” to assist with this.
Once you are able to get a look at your situation, you can begin to reflect on where you find yourself and why. Some elements are concrete – something has changed, and brought with it consequences which may or may not be uncontrollable. Some elements are intangible – our perceptions, emotions, our future actions or what-ifs. These need to be identified and paired with actual skills, tools and strategies that we have or may still need to develop.
Part of assessing the situation is also to be able to recognize both the positive and the negative. Crisis can be both a period of danger and an opportunity for growth. The practice of gratitude can help you as you look through your situation and recognize what is good.
- ACTION – What one thing can you do right now?
Once you have identified where you are at, and once you are able to see possible options, you need to make decisions. What one thing can you do? Implement it. That’s one step towards resolution. Now look at the next one. Action often starts out small. It may simply be calling a friend and being honest about not being ok. It may require discussing a plan with your partner to take turns engaging the children so the other can work, creating a routine that allows quiet play or tv time to allow for work to continue, or space to self-care. It may mean picking up the phone and making an appointment with a counsellor or psychologist (via online or telephonic means at this time). It may require you to create a daily budget and meal plan. It may require you to contact your employer or bank. It may mean an hour of uninterrupted play with your children before picking up your cellphone or turning on the computer or TV. It may mean rethinking how you do business.
Often in times of crisis we become introspective and can disengage others. One action plan may be to recognize what you have, and see how you can meet someone else’s need. While you may not have answers for yourself, you may be the answer to someone else’s crisis, and that empowers you to live beyond your current limitations. Why not make contact with your domestic worker or employees a few times a week to hear how they are doing, and encourage them. Consider donating to the solidarity response fund (the little you have may be the answer to someone else’s nothing – and together our little can add up to a lot). There are many creative ways in which we can still engage with others in this time.
So as we live through the thrashing, jolting and gravity defying twists and turns of the current crisis we face, engage these few steps and be present in your ride. Who knows how it will end? One hell of a ride? Or the ride from hell? Only time will tell. But your outlook, choices and actions will play a key role in your experience of it.
Globally we are experiencing a health crisis, currently known as COVID-19. However, we face crises at various points in our life. Sometimes even daily. Let’s consider crisis as a rollercoaster. We all have a turn on the rollercoaster of crisis. At different points we find ourselves in different places on the ride – waiting in line, sitting down in the seat in as it begins, screaming, gripping, crying as it flings us around various loop, peaks and dips, and finally disembarking. So what is crisis and what are some of the responses to crisis? Where are you at in your roller coaster journey?
What is crisis?
A crisis is an event, set of circumstances, or realization that threatens your physical or emotional wellbeing, and interferes with your daily functioning.
- Each person’s response to crisis will be unique.
- What may be a crisis for one, may not be for another.
- A crisis usually involves some sort of loss – whether actual or perceived (loss of a person, state of being, control, security, etc)
- In a crisis, the situation cannot be ignored and requires a decision of some sort.
- Old coping strategies may not work, new strategies are needed.
- A crisis causes a person to question, especially their beliefs and worldview.
How do people respond in crisis?
Each person will respond differently in crisis. But these are some responses a person might experience…
- Denial – a person may attempt to block the reality of the crisis, because they are just not ready to handle it.
- Bargaining – a person may try to diminish the situation through quick decisions and rash actions or even bargaining with a higher authority – like God
- Anger – a person may feel heightened negative emotions towards themselves or others, and lash out or internalise.
- Depression – a person may feel completely overwhelmed, at a low point, without hope or devastated.
- Acceptance – a person may come to terms with the reality of their situation – this is real – but there is a desire to take steps to get out of the situation
- Resolution – a person actively takes steps to implement new coping strategies and move out of the crisis in which they find themselves.
If we consider the roller coaster illustration, some questions you may ask yourself are…
- What has this ride cost me? Or what do I believe this ride will still cost me?
- What were my expectations of this ride, while waiting in line?
- Now that I’m strapped in, what is happening? How does this compare with my expectations?
- What feelings am I experiencing on this ride? Why do I feel this way?
- What am I thinking as I take another turn, dip or loop?
- What did I imagine doing and what am I now doing at each twist and turn? Why am I doing this?
- Who is sitting with me on this ride?
- What are they thinking, feeling and doing?
- How are we responding to one another? What effect is it having on how we each experience the ride?
- Am I abiding by the safety regulations? Or am I putting myself and others in further danger?
- What do I know for certain about how this ride plays out? What am I assuming?
- What is within my control? What is beyond me?
- Of that which is in my control, what can I do now?
In my next blog, I will look at some practical tips for working through a crisis.
People respond very differently in a crisis situation. Over this last week, there has been a flood of emotion across all social media platforms, one-on-one conversations and in the way people carry themselves in public spaces. Today let’s look at what crisis is, how people respond in general and how you can work through it and help your children through it. (If you find yourself overwhelmed by crisis at present, please seek professional advice for your particular situation).
I imagine this particular crisis (COVID-19) as a roller coaster ride, in the middle of a hurricane, where there are no rules, the tracks are coming apart, the ride controller is nowhere to be seen and the passengers on the ride with you are all responding in very different ways – some of which appear to be making the ride even more dangerous. And at each loop, there appear to be multiple splits leading to who knows where?
The roller coaster presents us with flux from one moment to the next. At any given point, you may look at where you are and feel like “I’ve got this”, only to be thrashed around as you hurdle towards the ground at rocket speed – your stomach in your throat and your heart racing faster than the cart itself. You started off this ride clueless, a mere observer waiting in line. Perhaps initially you experienced thrills of laughter, now only to find yourself crying and screaming, holding on for dear life, knuckles as white as paint. At one point you may assess the situation, and respond with intellect and a well thought through plan, the next you may be undoing your seatbelt ready to jump for it, as it may seem safer. Or maybe, as you’re about to take reckless action, you realise this may not end well and tuck your head between your legs and brace yourself for impact, asking “How did I get here?”. Perhaps you are holding onto the person next to you, with tears in your eyes crying for them to “JUST DO SOMETHNG!!!”
Whether you experience anger, anxiety, fear, guilt, shame, helplessness, hopelessness, worthlessness, hope, determination, epiphany, ambivalence, detachment or dependence – your feelings are real to you, in this moment, right now. Feelings and actions may shift in a moment.
While we endure this commute of pandemonium, we need to also be aware that every other person on this ride is experiencing their own reality of this moment, and will respond in their own unique way. And this may add further twists and turns to our already vomit inducing ordeal. We’re all in this together.
At some point the roller coaster must come to an end. How we experience the ride and how we disembark will depend on how handle the journey now.
Over the next few days I will unpack what crisis is, how people respond in a crisis, how you can get through a crisis and how to help your children get through crisis.
While I do not have answers for the devastating situation in which we currently find ourselves, my hope is that these blogs will assist you in being able to view this situation with a different perspective and giving you small practical steps to apply now.
Fasten your seat belts – we’re in for a bumpy ride!!!
At Sunday afternoon lunch, we were still light heartedly discussing the issue of COVID-19. Trying to explain to one another how the virus worked in the body, reiterating hygiene practices, practicing odd gestures for greetings, guessing what measures would be announced by our president later that evening, philosophizing over life and death, trying to understand the impact of this virus among an already vulnerable people group, and still finding ways to explain all that was necessary to our children, for their safety without causing fear.
While I was well aware of the pandemic around the world, it doesn’t quite land with the heaviness it warrants until it’s in your back yard. Watching the news from around the world, even seeing posts on social media from friends abroad, watching the count of confirmed cases rise and charted on the map, it was always someone else’s reality and I was a bystander seeing it unfold.
Until the president gave his address.
Suddenly the full weight of the situation came crashing down around me. Travel bans, visas revoked, public gatherings prohibited – even these seem far removed from me personally.
The president discussed the realities of an economic crisis that loomed ahead and would take years to work our way back out again. Then limiting the use of taxi’s, busses and trains, and schools remaining closed until after Easter. Well that was going to affect me personally. And not just me, but dear people close to me who rely on these services to get to and from work. Work that does not pay much, but barely enough to live.
Now what? If one cannot work, one cannot earn, and without earnings one cannot live. If we struggle with such social ills and poverty in our land now, then what would remain after this disaster had passed?
And then the early discussion of the physical effects of the virus, life and death came flooding back – no longer a commentary from the spectators, but a discussion from within the danger zone. If we do not come together, … I cannot describe the dooms-day images that come to mind.
With my heart broken, my fear increasing, my adrenaline rising and the effort to hold back tears and keep steady as I put my boys to bed, I managed to get myself to a place where I could just absorb the reality. The reality that all I had known and all that I had planned and dreamed 2020 would be was likely out of the window.
But there amongst the ashes was an ember of hope – “Thuma mina”. Of course I could not understand the significance of its meaning immediately, but it was clear that it was placed in the speech purposefully. So I searched.
“Send me”, a song by Hugh Masekela, a legendary musician in our country. This is not the first time our president has alluded to this song, and this idea – Send me!
Based on a scriptural reference:
‘And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”’ – Isaiah 6:8
The song expresses the idea of being a part of the solution to the ills of our country through a helping hand and prayer.
In this crisis, called COVID-19, we have the risk of utter chaos and collapse, but at the same time the opportunity for hope and restoration. We can abandon all reason and give into fear, or we can stand together in love, selflessness and graciously act in generosity and for the greater good. We can further separate ourselves or come together (not physically, of course) in solidarity.
Our perspective of a situation determines our approach to it.
What will yours be today?
What does that mean for you practically?