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When you’re stuck at home

  • Courtesy of Lori Balisacan

    Lori Balisacan enjoys the game called Headbandz with her son Norven Balisacan and her husband Glen Balisacan.

LIHU‘E – Lori Balisacan has been making more pancakes at her Kapa‘a house lately, now that she and her family are all staying at home, abiding by Mayor Derek Kawakami’s COVID-19-related stay-at-home order.

And instead of rushing out to beat the morning traffic to work and school, the family is taking mornings a bit more slowly. First it’s breakfast. Then it’s schoolwork. Then a walk to take in some fresh air.

“I have been cooking pancakes instead of plain cereal and milk. It helps to start the day with a happy tummy and a warm positive feeling,” said Balisacan.

As the afternoons wear on, the family has been shooting hoops in their backyard, watching free movies on Showtime, and playing their favorite board games like Headbandz and Battleship.

“Thus far we are okay. We have each other and we are grateful for that,” said Balisacan.

Kaua‘i Zumba instructor and realtor Kawehikulani Anama has been shaking any off feelings of depression — and extra quarantine weight — with her dance classes. She’s staying at home and following the mayor’s order as well, and is now hosting Zumba classes from her living room.

“Healthy body, mind and spirit comes from you choosing to make it so,” Anama said. Quarantine got you feeling like you’ve lost your mind and gained some additional curves? Take a deep breath and get your couchsurfing self to an online fitness class.”

The high-paced, upbeat music and moves are a combination that increases the heartrate and provides good exercise. Anama also says Zumba helps her find balance, peace and confidence.

“It’s [about] knowing who you are, and loving yourself for the complicated, beautiful being that you are,” said Anama.

All around the island families are spending their days in the house thanks to Kawakami’s COVID-19-related rules, which limit public outings to essential activities, heavily suggest working from home, and mandate mask-wearing in public, among other mandates County of Kaua‘i says are geared toward safeguarding the public.

Boredom, feelings of isolation and depression are common companions for many who are following the mayor’s rules, currently. While individuals are each inspired differently, mental health experts say there are a few surefire ways to help cope with the feeling of lockdown during the stay-at-home order.

Licensed social worker Franci Davila and registered nurse Bel Heredia are leaders of (KMHA) Kauai Mental Health Advocates, a local organization that partners with other community groups and county organizations to promote mental health around the island.

They suggest ways of coping that include making and sticking to a routine or schedule and limiting media consumption to two hours per day. Instead, explore creative outlets or productive yard and house work, Facetime friends and family to stay connected, and practice gratitude.

Kapa‘a mother, entrepreneur and speaker Deslynn Jaquias is accustomed to coping with overwhelming feelings and thoughts, as she’s been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. For Jaquias, whose sister died in a car accident in 2001, peace comes through helping others.

Through her podcast, called “Healing With Aloha”, Jaquias says she’s “able to advocate for mental health and confidence mindset despite real life issues.”

Jaquias also unwinds with music and taking part in social media groups like RUSHwahine.

Juno Apalla, Kauai Community College’s Performing Arts Center manager, has been busy working from home through most of the week and has been actually working from the office for essential activities. She says even though she has a chance to get out and about occasionally, being at home definitely induces “cabin fever”.

So, she’s developed a routine that helps keep her active and connected with her community.

“My routine usually begins with a mediation, which I do with my friends virtually and we committed to a 21 day practice by Deepak Chopra,” Apalla said.

Next, she dives into her work routine — which is outlined according to the “pomodoro technique” time management system — working in 20 minutes segments with 5 minute breaks in between.

Later in the afternoons and evenings, Apalla starts creating — lending a hand to the organization “Mask Making for Kauai”.

”I think the sweetest thing is that my family [is] doing similar things to keep themselves sane,” said Apalla. “During the week, after my mom finishes her morning walks, she leaves a bag of pandesal on my porch and it just makes my mornings because it’s one of my favorite Filipino breakfast item, with margarine of course.”

Kauai Mental Health Advocates is hosting a virtual community conversation around the issue of mental health on Monday, April 20 from 5 to 7 p.m. It will start at 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.



Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or


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