Given that we have never had a pandemic before, it is completely understandable that we don’t know how to navigate our way through COVID-19.
Whether your country is still in lockdown and you are homeschooling your children, or where you live is moving into lifting restrictions and starting to go back to school, if you are a parent or caretaker, the pandemic is bringing a different kind of stress into your family life.
The reason why the pandemic stress is so difficult is because we are unable to do anything about it. Really, we are unable to take action ourselves to find a cure, and we have been made to stay inside and at home—so of course we can feel restricted. All of these conditions add up and leave us feeling more stressed than we even realise.
Whatever you may be feeling, please understand that your feelings and responses are understandable and are simply normal responses to what is an abnormal event.
Family Well-Being during COVID-19
Here are some ideas of ways you can look after yourself and your family as you move though the remaining months of the COVID-19 experience. Every suggestion here is based on neuroscience, working with the body and brain to get relief, and the advice from Dr. Bessell van der Kolk, an internationally recognised expert on trauma and recovery.
As we see out the remaining months of restrictions, it is so important to keep finding those ways to connect and practice self-care as a family.
1. Movement is critical.
Any way you can move your body will work.
As a family, this means fun dancing sessions, sing-alongs, and humming competitions. When we dance, sing, or hum together as a family, it creates a feeling of being physically engaged with each other and in sync with each other.
2. Continue to make a schedule for your day.
Schedules are also really important, as they are the opposite of a pandemic. Pandemics are unpredictable; schedules give us certainty in our day.
Start by setting a time to go to bed and a time to wake up. Then divide the day into manageable sections of time.
3. Create positive things to look forward to and then think of them and remind your children/teenagers that the fun or kind event is coming up.
For example, “We are going to FaceTime Nan at 4 o’clock today,” or “Don’t forget your Zoom with your friends is on at 6 p.m. tonight. How exciting.”
4. Being still and learning to breathe together are also important.
Having some designated time for stillness is an essential part of the day during a pandemic. Our brains need stillness, just as much as movement.
5. Having your own space in the home is really helpful.
If possible, everyone needs a place that is just theirs. It may be a bedroom or a chair within the home. This is often a good place to go to read, be still, or meditate.
6. Interrupting the stress response.
Learning how to interrupt the stress response is easier than you think. The following ideas may not be something you’ve done before. I encourage you to try them, as then you will see the benefits for yourself.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed, try any of these strategies for immediate relief:
>> Warm up a heat pack and place it on your stomach or chest.
>> Grab an ice pack and place it on the back of your neck, chest, or stomach.
>> Every day gargle with room temperature water.
>> Hold ice cubes in your hands.
I hope these tips will be of benefit to you and your family!