Newell: How to keep your cool in a crowded house

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As we deal with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, our routines are disrupted, as interaction amongst members of our immediate family is more prevalent and persistent. Many folks are asking - how much longer will this go on? In the end, it’s all about your approach and your attitude. To explain how to help keep your family sane and safe, Newell invited Dr. Judy Ho onto the program Friday morning. Dr. Ho is a clinical and forensic neuropsychologist and host of the SuperCharged Life podcast.“We are used to spending some time away from our significant others and our kids and other family members, and getting some of that creative relaxation that goes on when you’re alone,” Newell began.  “Now, with the snap of a finger, that’s all changed. What kind of challenges does that present to families?”“There is a double-edged sword here,” Dr. Ho said. “Many people are feeling like they appreciate their close circle more because most of us are spending most or all of our time with our immediate family members in the same household. And it may make us feel more grateful that we have them, that this bonds us in some way as common stress often does. But you also can’t get away from them! Everyone is trying to get used to sharing the space, doing chores, working from home, homeschooling kids, managing everything all in the same space and I’ve heard from some patients and friends that they’ve had more arguments over little things - they just get more irritable with each other and raise their voices for some things that are really insignificant.”“One thing that I did that I thought would make a difference is set up my own office space,” Newell said. “I’m broadcasting from home like everyone at WWL, and we were never set up for that, so I went about trying to organize this space so that everyone knew that between 10am and 1pm, I am in here, and I need silence. It made sense to me to clearly articulate the expectations of what I needed to do my work.”“That’s really smart!” Dr. Ho said. “A couple of other tips - some families will say, our home isn’t that big and I don’t have a room for myself. Even if you don’t have a room, take a corner or a table and set those expectations early, and let them know, when Mom or Dad are sitting at this table, it means they’re working and will come out and talk to you later. I’m lucky to have a home office, and I literally will post my schedule out in front for my husband so he knows I’m on a Zoom call, or with a patient virtually. Maybe it sounds a little bit harsh, but I want to make sure he feels comfortable about when he can come in or not. I think he appreciates it!”“How much should we limit talking about the pandemic?” Newell asked. “Obviously it’s everywhere in the media, and it feels like information overload in many aspects.” 

“I 100% believe that we need to do that,” Dr. Ho answered. “People are obsessed with this 24/7, they are sitting having dinner and reading social media, which is not the best way to get accurate information. I always say, you gotta stay informed, but put limits on it, and put what you’re learning into an actionable tip and then move on. Adults should limit their media consumption, radio or TV or whatever, to two hours a day, and for kids it should be less than one. And at the end of that period, ask yourself, how can I apply what I just learned to protect myself and my family? Then walk away. As hard as it is for the human mind to let go, we have to try.”