What a year! Since January of 2020, the world has seen impeachment proceedings, a pandemic, record numbers of hurricanes, horrifying wild-fires and a global economic meltdown. With three months of 2020 left to go, how do we even begin to prepare for what could come next? The questions, the worries and the stress of these times can seem almost impossible to overcome.

The beginning of a new strange and uncertain school year has certainly not helped any of our families with school-age children escape the uncertainties of 2020 and most families have reached the end of their ropes while trying to cope with the stress. While each of the Perry County School Districts have worked hard to ensure that children attending school are as safe as possible, most parents are worried and unsure as the school year moves forward.

In some instances, decisions to home school or online school have been made for families. In other instances, parents have decided to send their children to school but continue to question their decision. Even after families have labored over these decisions and made what they hope to be “the right choice,” there is always a possibility that things can change without their input.

As we move forward into the fall of 2020, it seems imperative to develop some strategies that will help parents and students deal with the stress and the doubt of such uncertain times.

According to mental health experts, we should all take a moment to breathe and calm down before making any decisions. Decisions made suddenly in a time of stress are often reconsidered later. Analyze your options. Discuss the situation with others and carefully consider the pros and cons before coming to any conclusions.

Stay positive. Try to focus on what your child is learning from the current situation, not what they are missing out on. Anxiety and depression tend to increase when we focus on the past or worry about the future. Discuss your feelings with your child and allow them to voice their wishes. Accept and acknowledge the feelings and emotions both of you have about your situations.

Seek support when necessary for you or your family. Investigate individual and group counseling options and various support groups. Resources include Perry Behavioral Health Choices at 740-342-1991, Allwell Crisis Hotline 800-344-5818, Pathways of Central Ohio 2-1-1 Crisis Hotline, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1800-273- TALK (8255) or CRISIS TEXT LINE- TEXT 4hope to 741741.

Try to build time into the day for you and your child to be physically active. This isn’t easy as the daylight hours shorten and the demands on working parents increase. However, physical activity can help reduce your anxiety and help a child focus. Experts recommend that children get at least 60 minutes of physical activity a day, while adults should aim for 30 minutes (based on 2 1/2 hours a week). Medical professionals have noted that opportunities for physical activity are becoming increasingly important as our children increase their screen time due to remote learning.

The Perry County Health Department is working to keep you healthy where you live, work and play. For more information about any program or service offered by the Perry County Health Department, contact us at 740-342-5179, visit us online at www.perrycountyhealth.info and follow us on Facebook!

Deborah Raney is Director of Health Education at the Perry County Health Department and is a weekly contributor to The Perry County Tribune.

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