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    Meyer: Back to life?

    By Melissa Meyer, MS, LPCC-S
    Marion Star — Guest columnist

    Like the daffodils and tulips of spring, we suddenly see students popping up at bus stops or walking back to school. Signs of life abound as people return to morning commutes and workplaces and vaccines become available.

    It’s the break we’ve been waiting to experience for more than a year now. We should all breathe a sigh of relief and feel happy again, right?

    It may not be that simple. People are still getting sick and new strains of the virus have emerged. We’ve spent so much time “socially distant” that even hugging our family may give us a pause. And while kids can’t wait to see their friends, school can seem a little scary.

    Our team at Maryhaven has fielded many calls as districts reopen. Administrators and teachers worry about everything from COVID-19 in the classroom to how to manage recess and gym. They stress about these decisions and the implications for academic quality and personal safety.

    Parents and kids experience anxiety too. They fret about health and learning loss. For example, how much did my child actually retain from virtual academics? How well will he or she re-integrate into in-person classes?

    No easy answers exist for these complicated and critical questions. Once again, we confront the reality that the pandemic turned our world upside down and left a great deal of uncertainty in its wake.

    What can we do to cope? One strategy we recommend is to return to the reliability of routine.

    Children especially thrive on stability. Following certain routines every day can help kids stay focused and feel safe. Encourage them to return to these activities, such as picking out their clothes the night before school. Make sure they get back into the cycle of showering, dressing, packing backpacks at the same times as always. Be sure they eat breakfast and grab a snack when returning home. Remind them to finish homework before dinner.

    By once again reinstating the daily rituals that seem normal and healthy, we reduce stress and anxiety.

    Do the same for yourself. Even as adults, we feel more confident and secure adhering to a daily game plan. With steps like these, we can all get back to life.

    Melissa Meyer, MS, LPCC-S, is director of Regional Services for Maryhaven, Central Ohio’s largest and most comprehensive behavioral health services provider specializing in addiction recovery. 

    Read in the Marion Star