9 Tips to Stay Calm for your Kids in a Crisis

Children, even teenagers, are keen observers and they tend to mirror what they see and feel from their primary caregivers. That means that if you are struggling with the COVID-19 crisis, your children will, too. The best thing you can do for your entire family is to stay calm. Today’s blog offers some tips on how to stay calm during this very challenging time:

Distract yourself.

In stressful times, our mind tends to run over and over the topic. It’s not healthy to think about stressful worries all the time, so keep yourself distracted. Research shows that offering a distraction from a stressful event lowers blood pressure. So, watch a movie, play a video game, do a jigsaw puzzle – never will you have such a good reason to do relaxing activities!

Keep a tidy home.

When our environment is chaotic, our minds feel chaotic, too. If you have to stay at home all day, you should at least like what you’re looking at! So, just take 30 minutes each day and tidy up. Clean the dishes, put the kids’ toys in bins, wipe the countertops, and find places for the items strewn around the floor. Keeping an organized home gives you a sense of staying in control and makes your environment more pleasant to spend your day in.

Reframe the situation.

How we think determines how we feel. If we keep thinking about how horrible everything is, then we will feel pretty horrible. If we think about positive actions we can take, then we will feel better. For example, during this COVID-19 crisis, instead of thinking “I just cannot get sick” try saying to yourself “I will practice proper hygiene and social distancing.” You can’t control the virus, but you can control your thoughts and actions.

Stick to structure.

When life feels out of control, it helps to create a new routine and schedule. Set your alarm and wake up at the same time every day. Plan on meals at roughly the same time and consider a basic schedule for your daily activities. Staying in control of the day’s plans goes a very long way in maintaining a positive outlook.

Give yourself a break.

Sometimes we can be our harshest critic, beating ourselves up for the smallest mistake. Recognize that this is a very challenging situation that no one alive today has ever had to face. Everyone is going to make mistakes through the crisis, no one is going to be on their best behavior, and you can’t expect to be the perfect spouse or parent during such stressful times. Cut yourself some slack and let go of your inner critic.

Focus on the small things.

Find the small things in your day that bring you some joy. Research shows that if you spend a few minutes to really recognize and appreciate a moment that gives you some small pleasure, then you will feel happier overall. These small things are different for everyone – ranging from sunsets to watching a dog chase a squirrel to indulging in a good dessert – so find at least one small thing each day for which you can feel grateful.

Eat well and stay active.

Our body feels its best when we eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, and when your body feels better, your mind feels better, too. Use this time of isolation to try some new healthy recipes so that you’re fueling your body with a well-balanced diet. Mostly likely, you have plenty of extra time so use it to exercise. You don’t need to be a yoga expert or have fancy workout equipment to exercise at home. Just take a few minutes each day to do some old-fashioned movements like squats, crunches, and leg lifts. There are lots of videos online for workouts, including some for beginners. Exercising every day is not only good for your body, but it also is a great mood lifter and provides an important sense of accomplishment.

Catch up on something you’ve been meaning to do.

How many times have you complained that you don’t have time to do something? Now is your moment! Take advantage of social distancing to organize your photos (or make a scrapbook), to read that book, to have a board game tournament with your children, to clean out the linen closest, or to reorganize an area in your home.

Reduce media consumption.

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting. You need to set limits on the amount of negativity coming into your home. You might also consider keeping your phone out of your bedroom or setting up specific times of the day for screen-free time.

Final Thoughts…

Do your best to role model healthy coping mechanisms during this time to maintain a calm environment in your home. This is a great time to talk to your teen about stress and healthy coping skills for managing anxiety. Show your teens these tips and challenge them to think of more positive ways to stay calm during challenging times. It’s a great conversation starter and will prepare them to deal with their own stress in the future.

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