The COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended life as we know it. Adults and children alike are adjusting to things like face masks, social distancing, sanitation procedures, and of course, the dramatic shift to homeschooling and working from home.
If you’re a homeschooling-work-from-home-parent — a HWFHP, so to speak — there are going to be times when you feel stressed out, overly anxious, and just plain exhausted. Here are a few simple, tactics to help both you and your children cope with the stresses and strains as you manage your mental health together throughout the ongoing crisis.
Listen to Each Other
One of the first steps in managing stress is understanding that the stress itself is a normal part of life. As you go about your daily activities, things will naturally create stress at times — and that’s okay. The problems begin to arise when you treat stress as a bad thing that must be completely eliminated.
You can’t control and eliminate stress in that way. Instead, the goal should be to understand and manage the stress in your life.
You can start this process by both talking to your peers about your stress and with your child about their stresses. Use active listening, even if you’re talking to yourself, in order to constructively learn about what it is that stresses your family out.
As you do this, try to label your feelings. Encourage your children to give words to their feelings as well. Also try to identify triggers that set off your stress and look for ways to better organize your life, such as decluttering your spaces, delegating tasks, and keeping to-do lists.
The concept of slowing down may sound impossible when you’re juggling so many things at once. Nevertheless, it’s important for you to learn to slow down at times. It’s the same concept as a child being asked to quietly play alone for a while in order to calm down and reset their minds and attitudes.
Whenever an opportunity arises, even if it’s just for ten or fifteen minutes, try to squeeze in times to slow down a bit. You can use these times to:
- Meditate and pray.
- Listen to music.
- Practice deep breathing exercises.
- Read through a muscle relaxation script.
Regardless of the specific activity, trying to purposefully slow down on a regular basis is an excellent way to reclaim some sanity amidst the chaos.
Unplug from Online Activity
Another excellent tactic for children is to unplug. Too much time in front of a screen is a classic recipe for a tantrum — in adults as much as with kids. With that in mind, try to find activities that you and your family can indulge in without using the internet, such as:
- Reading a book.
- Learning an instrument together.
- Painting, sculpting, coloring, or creating some other form of artwork.
- Playing a card game or board game.
- Recording a fun video on your phone — just make sure it’s in airplane mode!
By purposefully turning off and disconnecting from the online world, you’re providing your brain with a chance to slow down, think, and enjoy being in the present.
Get Some Exercise
Exercise isn’t just good for your physical health. It also has a variety of science-backed benefits for your mind, such as decreasing stress, enhancing creativity, increasing your satisfaction with life, and improving your overall mental health.
It doesn’t matter if you’re going for a jog every morning, slipping in a walk before dinner, doing fifty pushups after work, playing with the kids every afternoon, or anything else. Getting some kind of exercise on a regular basis is very good for managing stress.
Help Others and Ask for Help
Finally, remember the power of including others in your life. This is especially true during a pandemic when social distancing has created a natural sense of being apart.
While it’s still important to follow social distancing protocols, that shouldn’t stop you from reaching out via a video chat, a parking lot meetup, or any other appropriate form of interaction in order to see other people.
Spending time with others isn’t just fun, it’s actually a form of self-care. It allows you to decompress, ask for help, offer help to others, and even get in a good laugh or a much-needed cry with those that you trust.
Staying Calm, Cool, and Collected During COVID-19
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with stress. It’s a normal part of life. However, the way that you choose to respond to the natural stress present in your everyday life can make a big difference in how you feel on a daily basis.
Coping mechanisms like slowing down, communicating, labeling stress triggers for your family, getting exercise, and unplugging can allow everyone, young and old, to better manage the stress. They can help you avoid those dreaded feelings of overwhelm and provide encouragement and energy as you tackle the challenges that each day brings to the table.