BY DEBORAH MOON
During a weekly Community Connection conversation on Zoom, Jewish Family and Child Service staff shared tips and strategies for coping with our swiftly changing reality and the challenges and anxieties of pandemic living.
JFCS Clinical Director Douglass Ruth said it is important to focus on what we can control during this era of uncertainty, when new information comes out every day that contradicts what you heard the day before.
“We have some control of our consumption of information,” he said. “Predictions are interesting, but not calming. They are hypotheses with not a lot of data … so don’t participate too much.”
Ruth said the enforced simplicity of isolated life today is “an opportunity to give ourselves the time and space to tweak our daily routines, sleep and eating habits.”
Staff therapist David Molko shared his personal ground rules: “Filter out rumor; anchor my day around activities that have always been part of my day … such as physical activity.”
“I attempt to identify something every day that I am grateful for or that is amusing, interesting or curious – I pause for a moment to reflect on something positive,” added Molko.
The group talked about the additional challenges of relating to children, the elderly and adult children with disabilities.
JFCS staffers noted that reassurance, predictability, consistency and structure are helpful for all three groups. Choosing language that is age- and ability-appropriate and not alarming is also important.
Ruth said he has talked to parents who face unfamiliar challenges of encouraging positive consumption of something – screen time – they once limited. “Now I helped them figure out a good video game for kids to play that can be good structured use of time.”
The next Community Connection group will be 10 am, Friday, April 17. The group, open to all, is focused on challenges, coping skills and connections.
Ruth said JFCS will also consider targeted support groups if they are needed. He noted that Zoom conversations and virtual counseling have presented fresh challenges to the JFCS staff – but also opportunities.
“I would not have done ‘telehealth’ a month ago, but I’m being forced to do it,” Ruth said. “We are all going to build new capabilities and will come out with new skills.”