The material and contents of this post are for informational purposes only and are designed to provide helpful advice on the subjects discussed. The information is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. For diagnosis or treatment of any medical or emotional condition, please consult your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health provider.
You cover your face when you cough or sneeze, your wash your hands after contaminating them, and these days you even socially distance six feet to prevent the spread of illness, but what are we doing to stop spreading the panic?
The news seems to function primarily to induce panic and anxiety (secondarily they inform… I think), and often times social media does the same. I can only imagine how many anxious teenagers and children will end up in my office in the future who will be able to look back at this time as the birthplace of their symptoms.
Bottom line? This stuff is scary. Really scary for some. And it looms. Constantly. So what can we do?
If you already have it (anxiety)
Protecting your children from what is going on does not mean lying to them. Kids pick up on everything. If you act like everything is normal and fine but inside you’re dying, they feel that. What they see is incongruence. “Why is mommy saying everything is fine but she is acting weird/nervous/ shaky. “ It’s the same concept as fighting with your spouse, ex, whom ever. You may not ever “fight in front of the kids”, but they feel it and they absorb that tension like a sponge. So protecting your kids isn’t lying to them. Protecting them is being honest (within reason and what is age appropriate ) about what is going on and how you’re feeling. The biggest and most important step from there is what you do about what you’re feeling.
How do I help my kids?
Kids learn by example. Show them what to do with negative feelings. These are skills they absolutely need as they get older and many of us weren’t taught them until we were much older (if ever). Narrate what you’re doing and why.
Example: Mommy is feeling nervous, a little jittery about what is going on in the world. I think I’ll go do ________. That always makes me feel calmer.
Then go do it. Lesson learned. Your child just witnessed a very normal human emotion and a healthy response to manage. This is so much healthier than allowing a cloud of unacknowledged angst float around the home.
Ok, so how do I help myself?
Awhile back I wrote a post on knowing your owners manual. This concept is so important to know what you need to feel good. Many of those things may not be available to you right now, so you may need to edit that manual a bit to things that are accessible, but it’s worth addressing. Here are some other strategies:
• Self Talk: I know I’m scared right now and this is a strange time. I may get sick, I may not, but I am doing everything in my control to stay healthy. I’m in control of my social distancing, my hygiene, my thoughts, (and anything else you might want to add here). Anytime you go off script into a tornado of accelerating panic, bring it back to this statement. Repeat.
• Physical exercise. Move your body. Get those feel good hormones and neurotransmitters firing.
• Meditation (headspace and simply being are great apps for beginners)
• Yoga (Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube is free and fantastic for a home practice)
• Creating a routine/schedule/project helps you concentrate on putting one foot in front of the next to complete tasks and concentrate less on your thoughts.
• Coloring/art (adult coloring books provide a meditative experience)
• Find reasons to laugh (Here we go again with feel good chemicals! Digital happy hour with friends, dance party with your family, watch a funny movie, whatever it takes.)
• Stop watching the news. Limit your intake of social media, especially accounts that activate your nerves. Stay on a need to know basis with what’s going on in the world.
• Love the one(s) your with
• Get outside. Take a mindful walk. Notice the smells, sights, and the way the ground feels beneath your feet. Mindfulness is being totally present and is great for the mind and soul. (A refresher on mindfulness is linked here.)
• Breathing exercises. Deep, quality breaths. I can teach some on IG videos if you’re interested.
• Give yourself grace. You’re only capable of doing so much at once. If something isn’t working, change it. There are no rules for how things have to go inside your home right now, so don’t be afraid to bend and learn as you go. It’s new to all of us and we are in this together.
So that how we will get through this. We will stay home (if we can). We will cover our faces, and we will manage, not spread, our anxiety.
Let’s do this.