Southwest Spotlight talks with Michael Shaughnessy about COVID-19 induced stress.
CRISS: This is Southwest spotlight on the KENW Public Radio Network. With me now is Doctor Michael Shaughnessy, professor of special education at Eastern New Mexico University. Doctor Chauncey that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, and one of them is stress. It's not just being sick or in the hospital. This stress comes at home in a lot of cases. Do you have some suggestions for people in terms of how to handle stress during this very hard time for us all to be around?
SHAUGHNESSY: Well, it's difficult for a lot of people, both parents, children, teachers, community workers, because we've encountered a massive amount of change. The brain doesn't like change, the human body doesn't like change, and people don't react well to change. So, we all kind of need to realize that we are in a period of adjustment. And parents, for example, are just taking on multiple roles. They're having to be parents and guardians as well as facilitators of their child's education because the vast majority of the students are learning online or through Zoom or Microsoft Teams or some other what we call platform. And not a lot of times that technology is a problem for both the students and the parents. Hopefully, it will work. But it's exasperating and frustrating when that technology doesn't work. Parents are also trying to cope with their own financial problems, particularly those in the food and beverage industry.
People who have been working at restaurants; So- They are confronted with having a dip into savings and not having a continual income flow. But you know we're all in this together. I think Alfred Adler said this many years ago. Although one of my students said it was Zac Efron that said, "That we're all in this together." But we kind of have to accept what's happening out there. We have to accept the dangers. We have to hope that this will all be over soon. While at the same time, we still have to continue to take precautionary preventative measures. We have to keep our social distance; We have to wash our hands and wear masks, and we have also to be understanding. Parents have to be understanding of what's going on. We have to have some care and concern for our loved ones and children. And this is a great opportunity for everybody to develop their coping skills. How to deal with difficulties, and there are some families that have had to deal with the death of loved ones. So, they're in a grieving process. And for some individuals, this ultimately may mean the need for some mental health counseling or some kind of emotional support, be that friends, relatives, neighbors, or maybe turning to the local church, or finding new avenues for recreation, picking up hobbies. So, there's a lot of things that we need to be looking at during this crisis. While at the same time trying to look positive and look forward. And hopefully, fingers crossed. This will all be over fairly soon, and we'll be able to go out to a movie or go out and enjoy time with our friends and colleagues, and loved ones.
CRISS: That's great. We- we need to remember that each of us is facing this. When I think about the stress, I should think about my wife's stress or my children's stress, and remember that I've gotta help them and help myself in terms of getting past this, don't we?
SHAUGHNESSY: Yes, that's being kind and considerate, and sensitive to others. An offering, you know, kind of sympathy and asking people simply you know how are you doing? How are you feeling? How are you coping with this? How is it- how is it affecting you? You know, can we sit down and have a Cup of coffee. Can we, you know- air our concerns? Can we talk about you know what's aggravating us, what our frustrations are? Just take some time to make time for other people and support different levels: Like the phone, or Zoom, or text messages, or FaceTime whatever. Anything you can find to connect. Even writing a letter. Getting out a piece of paper and a pencil to a distant relative and saying, “Hey, we're thinking about you. We know you're going through a difficult time. We know that this is not easy.”
CRISS: OK, well think-.
SHAUGHNESSY: We're hoping and praying that it will all be over soon, and we'll be able to get back together. And the other thing that's going to be a big adjustment is for our students when they go back to school in the fall. They've been out of the routine. They have kind of lost that structure and consistency. So, it's going to be another adjustment for them down the road when they return to school in, you know, mid-August.
CRISS: Well, thank you. We appreciate all that you do for those students. And all that you've taught teachers through the years as well, Doctor Shaughnessy. I know that it's a tough job that you have in trying to help those people with the problems they have. So, thank you for talking with me.
SHAUGHNESSY: Thank you for the opportunity. I appreciate it.
CRISS: This is Don Criss, and this has been Southwest Spotlight.