IDAHO — With the new school semester starting, many students will be back in the classroom--whether that's virtual, in-person, or a mix of the two--and parents will once again have to navigate balancing playing teacher with their own work.
Regence Medical Director of Behavioral Health, Dr. Hossam Mahmoud, says as we approach the year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, families will need to figure out what the "new normal" looks like for them.
"I think part of that is focusing on what is important for different family members. Being open and having conversations, especially with kids, about what they're struggling with in order to be able to support them with all the uncertainty that's going on," he explains.
Parents will bear the brunt of the responsibility to find that balance, but Dr. Mahmoud says adults should start that search by giving themselves space.
"I cannot emphasize how important it is to practice self-compassion during this time because, I think, if we continue to expect the same from ourselves as before COVID, I think we can end up being very hard on ourselves and it's important to be compassionate with ourselves and kind of readjust the goals that we had," says Dr. Mahmoud.
Dr. Mahmoud also suggests practicing self-care as we continue through the pandemic, but he says there's some good news on the horizon.
"Overall, I would say I am feeling hopeful that with the rollout of the vaccine, things are moving in a positive direction and so I would try to focus on that," he says. "That helps me cope with all the uncertainty and the stress."
Despite having a light at the end of the tunnel, months of living in isolation or under lockdown orders have taken their toll on much of the population so where can you go to take care of your mental health?
"I'm a strong believer that one social network, and by that, I mean close loved ones, close family, and close friends, I think it's very important to reach out for help from close ones that you trust, and at the same time, be there for them because there's something so fulfilling and satisfying and empowering in helping others," says Dr. Mahmoud.
Dr. Mahmoud adds that this may be easier said than done as people could be feeling overwhelmed, and stress may be affecting their ability to function at home, at work, or at school. He says that's when it's time to reach out for professional help.
"Talk to their personal physician. Typically it starts with a primary care physician and asking them for help. At times, they might decide you need to see a mental health provider, or at times, they may be able to help themselves," he explains. "I also urge folks to reach out to their health plan's homepages because lots of times there are resources for COVID and mental health resources on there."
Dr. Mahmoud says some signs you may need to seek professional help include an inability to get out of bed, feelings of hopelessness, or anxiety.