Mental Health

Mental Health during Social Distancing

I’ve been reading a few articles and posts about how everyone is handling social distancing and the difficulties of changing their day-to-day routines. The funny part is that I realize I have been doing a bit of social distancing since the moment I arrived to France and became an Expat.

For many expat wives, they experience social distancing the moment they land in a new country, with new culture, unknown territory and figuring basic things such as where to buy groceries. Some expats are alongside their partners all day because they haven’t created a community of friends yet or the language barrier makes it hard to integrate.

Now imagine being an expat facing these challenges and now you have your kids bouncing off the walls all day and you have to educate them on a foreign language, put meals on the table and make sure the house is stocked with necessities on top of trying to keep us with the news in a different language. If non-expats are feeling like they are about to have a mental breakdown and it’s all too much to handle, you sure have a double stressor being an expat.

Right now is the time to prioritize your emotional, mental and physical well-being. Your children learn from you and at these times of crises, you need to search for tools that work for you. Margot Schulman, activist and mindfulness expert is a person you can reach for tools to stay calm during this chaotic times. For example, right when you think you’re about to explode and make your face turn all red, take a deep breath and take time to be alone even if it’s 10 minutes.

Here are five tips Margot Schulman shares with the mommy community:

1. Make time for yourself

Yes I know, what is that right? As a mom we barely have time to go pee, and we have forgotten what self-care looks like. Schulman suggests you can make it a point to self-care by writing down a list of 20 activities that make you feel nourished, supported, joyful and fun and make sure you do at least one of those each day. I personally try to take some time every afternoon to have a cup of coffee with sweet bread. I sit alone in the kitchen while I distract the kids with TV and just have my coffee alone.

2. Look for positive side

Fear and joy are feeling you may be feeling at the same time during these moments of uncertainty. You are allowed to be in an emotional roller coaster, you are only human. Choose to look for the positive side of things by finding moments to laugh and be grateful every single day. Slow down and instead of being the parent that’s teaching lessons, reconnect with the people that really matter to you. Right now you have the opportunity to just cuddle with your kids, wear the same pair of leggings all week, skip a day of homework and make a cake together. Learn to slow down and be ok with breaking from the routine. When you change your mindset, the energy of your family will change.

3. Now is the time to learn something NEW

You know those online Udemy courses you have been paying for and not completing? That ball of yarn you bought to try to learn how to make a scarf? Step back and ask yourself what else can you and your kids learn during this time that normally you don’t have time for? Maybe now is the time to get the kids invoved is chores and teach them how to help with the laundry, or maybe your spouse is the chef for dinners now that he is not driving home from work so late. You can also watch youtube videos to learn new dancing moves or see what is this whole TikTok app your kids have been talking about.

4. Be honest

It might sound crazy considering you are all closed in your house with nowhere to go, but this is the time to really strengthen your relationship with your family and also yourself. Have those deep conversations with your partner about your goals and if you are both on the same page. Ask yourself the tough questions like Do I take time for myself? Do I have a happy family routine? Am I too wrapped up on the needs of others and I have forgotten what I need? It’s ok to be honest and to express to your family what is stressing you, but do it without blame. Talk from the “me” perspective and learn how you can all support each other and have compassion for each other.

5. Integrate an emotional trigger

Pay attention to your emotions, specially now that you are with your family 24/7. Use the moments that trigger you as moments to breath, to calm you mind and find your center and remember that everything will pass and nothing is permanent. It is normal to lose your temper, get anxious and irritated by your family when you have no space to just be alone. This is why taking the time to find your joy at least once a day is important.