March 27, 2020
April 14, 2020



Jean Selvam (M.Sc. Coun.)


Ever since news of the COVID-19 virus broke out and the number of infected people in Malaysia began increasing, people have been stressing out about the well being of themselves and their family members. For the last month or so, we have been hearing these two terms consistently: panic buying and social distancing. These terms have caused a lot of anxiety and paranoia amongst the public. Then a few days ago, our government issued the Movement Control Order (MCO) which is meant to help flatten the curve of the spread of the illness. Unfortunately that has also contributed to more anxiety and paranoia for numerous individuals. Many people are concerned over how their income might be affected, the lack of groceries available at the stores due to “panic buying,” and the fact that the number of those infected in Malaysia continue increasing.

Imagine all this stress and negative-energy cooped up at home for days, with your partner, restless children, pets, and even the elderly, whom you are most worried about protecting. It could be a recipe for miscommunication, high levels of emotion, and God forbid, a disaster!

So what can we do to relieve some of these pressures and maybe even to create some fun memories with the family during this time? Here are 15 great family ideas to consider during this MCO period.

1.  Family movie nights. For example, every night after dinner family members can take a vote on a movie to watch. Make the movie watching interesting by throwing in some homemade popcorn, ice cream sundaes or baked homemade goodies. Turn off the lights, and cuddle together (rearrange furniture if you can, to make things comfortable)

2.  Bake cookies/brownies/cakes with your kids! There are multiple healthy baking videos on YouTube and they even have simple recipes so that you can involve your children. Here’s how to make desserts with your kids, and a recipe for healthy chocolate brownies.

3.  Malaysians, remember the Batu Seremban? You can make your own (using cloth, rice or green peas and some thread) and play it with the family.

4.  Learn a new dance. Whether it is salsa, an African dance or even a country line dance!

5.  Make a terrarium with the family. You just need an old jam jar, a plastic sheet, garden soil, pebbles and some stuff you like from your garden that is small enough to fit in your jar! Learn more about it here.

6.  Learn a new language, even the basics of a sign language. Can you sign the alphabets?

7.  Start a jigsaw puzzle. Challenge yourselves with 1000 pieces or more!

8.  Exercise together with simple workout videos online, whether it is Zumba, yoga or Pilates.

9. Take time to reflect. When we're always on the go, we don't have time to reflect on the things we would like to improve about ourselves, or even what we are truly passionate about. This is a great time to do some journaling and reflect deeper.

10. Do art. Order paint-by-number kits online, or better yet, get artistic with some water colours, crayons, colour pencils, sharpies, and an art block or A4 sized paper. 

11. Get your Marie Kondo on! What better time than now to look through clothes and things that spark joy and donate those that don’t!

12. Read together. Start reading your favourite book, read to your kids or get your kids to write short stories that you can read back to them later during bedtime.

13. Learn to practice mindfulness together, whether it is mindful breathing or even mindful eating.

14. Sing! Belt out your favourite songs and release some stress with Karaoke days or nights with the family. There are plenty of free tracks available on YouTube.

15. Hangout virtually with friends or family members that don’t live with you. Have a virtual wine night, pyjama party, or find online games that you can play together through an app. Try using WhatsApp video, Hangouts, or Zoom!

These are just a few options to get your creative juices flowing. I am sure you can find more ideas online or just brainstorm with each other. Ask each other what they would most enjoy doing and respect each other’s ideas. There are three more weeks left to enjoy everyone’s preferences!

Many of us have transitioned to working from home at this time. Here are 5 tips to help you make the most of working from home:

1.  Get dressed for work! As weird or funny as this may sound, do not start your work day in your pyjamas. We often want to be comfortable at home but changing out of your pyjamas into daytime/work clothing can help you get into the right head space to start your work day more effectively.

2.  Set your work hours and designated break times. When at work, we have meetings, trainings, clients or customers, and colleagues to distract us so that we are not staring at the screen for hours. We may not have these distractions at home. We can easily get carried away staring at our screens for hours, and potentially suffer from headaches and body aches later on.

3.  Drink plenty of water to keep your body energised and hydrated. This is important for two reasons. First, most of our homes do not have centralised air-conditioning, so working in a warm environment can dehydrate us – find a cooler spot in the house to work. Second, we also tend to forget to drink water when we’re at home because we are not moving as much, so keep your water bottles next to you as a reminder.

4.  Move around your home and not just stay in one place during the entire 8 or 10 hours. You’re not only stretching your body as you walk but you’re also changing your environment. This helps in keeping you alert and active while working. Research shows that sitting for long periods of time is unhealthy for our bodies. And try to stay away from your bedroom, leave it as a sacred space for sleeping and resting. You will need it!

5.  Sign off and turn off all notifications at the end of your workday, especially if you’re signed in on your personal devices. Signing off provides the psychological shift needed for your mind to leave work. It’s time to connect with family or friends, whether in person or virtually!

I hope we can all find fruitful and memorable ways to manage our time together with our spouse and children. It is crucial that we understand the importance of managing our emotions during this stressful time. Be aware of your emotions; if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or losing your temper quickly, it is time for some self-care. Find a quiet spot in your home or at least request for some “me-time” from your spouse to take a few deep breaths, listen to music or even watch some videos on your phone. This “me-time” can occur anytime during the day, for short periods of time or longer. Here’s to building and nourishing healthy relationships!

© Rekindle Sdn. Bhd., 2020. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from the author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rekindle Centre for Systemic Therapy and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.