Feel your feelings.
It's natural for us to feel anxious right now. Our sense of normalcy was disrupted and we're not used to it. Many of us can't go to school, so we're home for most of the day. Many of us are working from home while also trying to teach, cook, and care for our kids. And many of us are worrying about our vulnerable family members. Of course you're going to be anxious - and your kids probably are, too.
Anxiety is our body's alarm system that alerts us to threats, so it's natural for it to be going off right now! This is your body encouraging you to pause. When you feel your heart racing, or your breath getting quicker, or maybe even your head starting to hurt - try to close your eyes. Take a deep breath for three seconds, and then exhale for three seconds. This will help you calm down.
When you feel anxious, what emotions are you feeling? Do you feel helpless, ashamed, drained, or guilty? Naming the emotions gives you a sense of understanding and can help normalize the experience. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, it's important for parents to model how to mange their feelings. Because children rely on parents for physical and emotional safety, leading by example can help your child cope with their anxiety. It's okay to not be okay. Reassure them that you're there for them. Sometimes we just need to vent and want to be heard. Other times we need advice and answers. Validating their anxiety, disappointment and frustration will help them feel less upset and angry. Feeling heard might allow them to be vulnerable and open up. This can provide some much needed emotional relief. This a time where we crave control. There are so many opinions on how to move forward, and yet there is still so much that is unknown. Anxiety has a way of making us catastrophize. We think of insane hypotheticals which can cause us to jump to conclusions.
See if you can shift your perspective. Make a list of everything you do know. For example: This is temporary. My family is healthy, etc. Next make a list of everything you can control, for example: Washing your hands, seeing friends and family on apps, and going for walks. This can help you feel empowered. The American Academy of Pediatrics says sticking to your regular routine can also help you and your family feel empowered. Wake up and go to bed like you normally would, get some movement in while playing with your kids, and make sure to eat and drink regularly.
It's a tough time. Just remember to take a breath. We're all here for you.
Calm down by Breathing In
When you or your kids are feeling stressed, just remember to breath. This video can help you regain your sense of calm. Watch the video »