Coronavirus has many people are feeling stressed and anxious at the moment – including our kids. This is totally normal, as anxiety is all about being uncertain about what the future holds. But if you or your kids are struggling to manage stress or anxiety, you’re not alone.
The good news is that there are strategies to help us cope with these types of feelings. If you’re looking to manage stress and anxiety for your whole family, we’ve got some practical tips to help.
Keep reading below or watch our two-part video series about stress, anxiety and coronavirus here.
How To Manage Stress And Anxiety During Coronavirus
Many of our clients have been telling us that they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed or anxious.
Firstly, it’s important to know that it’s ok to experience a variety of emotions during this time. Sometimes you might feel ok, and even feel guilty for feeling like that! One day you might be not coping, and the next you’re able to keep going.
Our kids are feeling the same way. As the way that they learn and socialise change, they can experience strong emotions. There may even be tears or tantrums. Remember that just like you, they are feeling worried about their future and overwhelmed by the changes occurring.
To help you and your family to manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way, we’ve pulled together our top tips.
Try an exercise in perspective
This concept comes from Stephen Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It looks at two circles – the circle of concern and the circle of influence.
Start by drawing a big circle on a piece of paper. This big circle is the circle of concern. Do a braindump of everything that has you feeling worried or anxious at the moment. Get the thoughts and feelings out onto the paper.
Within the big circle, draw a little circle. This is the circle of influence. The circle of influence is all of the things that concern us, but that we can do something about.
This exercise helps us to see that we don’t have a control over the majority of things that are stressing us out. But it also shows us where we can take action.
For example, your circle of concern might include:
- Sending the kids to school while they are still open
- Your parents falling sick
- How long schools might close for
- The people who have lost jobs
- Businesses that have closed
- Decisions that your government has made
- Other people who aren’t following the lockdown rules
- Whether you or your partner will be able to keep working
But there are only a few things that you could add to the circle of influence. These are the things you can action and feel empowered by.
- Implement social distancing within your family to reduce the risk of infection
- Feed your family foods that strengthen the immune system
- Keep your kids at home even before schools officially close
- Offer to help the people in your family or friends that are at higher risk – doing some shopping for them or dropping off some home-cooked meals
This exercise can help you to manage stress and anxiety by showing you what you can do about your stress and what to let go of.
Watch your media consumption
One factor that adds to our circle of concern but not the circle of influence is the constant media updates. Every hour alarming headlines spread throughout the news, radio and social media.
If you want to stay informed, schedule one time during the day that you catch up on what has occurred. This is enough to get the information you need without getting sucked in and overwhelmed by the situation.
Let your kids express their emotions in a safe space
It’s easy to say things to our kids like ‘that’s just the way it is’, ‘there are more important things going on’ or ‘there are others who are worse off’. But for kids to deal with their stress and emotions, they need to feel safe to express them with you.
Instead, we can say things like ‘that’s disappointing that you’ll miss out on your sleepover’ or ‘it’s ok to feel upset about school closing’.
We don’t have to solve their problems – because right now, we can’t! But we can make them feel heard and validate their feelings. This gives them the ability to feel their feelings and process their emotions.
Some kids struggle to express their feelings verbally. In this case, you could get them to write or even draw how they feel. You could even give them ways to express it physically – if they feel frustrated or angry, get them to punch pillows! This is particularly useful for kids on the autism spectrum.
We might be limited with where we can go, but getting out into nature can help you to manage stress and anxiety. Spending time in nature helps to calm the nervous system and regulate the stress response.
You can practice social distancing in national parks or even quieter beaches like the ones we have here in South Australia. But even the backyard can be enough to get your dose of fresh air and sunshine. The sunshine will also help boost your vitamin D levels. As vitamin D is also supportive for the immune system, it’s a 2 for 1 deal in the current situation!
Time in nature is a great place to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the present moment, and is well-known for relieving stress and anxiety.
If you or your kids are new to mindfulness, start by focusing on your senses. What can you see, hear, feel, taste or smell? If you’re lying in the backyard watching the clouds, this is exactly what happens naturally. You’re looking at the movements of the clouds, feeling the sunshine on your skin, smelling the fresh grass and hearing the wind in the trees or the birds.
We’re now spending more time than ever at home. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t move your body! Exercise relieves stress and helps you to feel more present, reducing anxiety. Depending on the rules of your state, you can still go for a walk, hike or bike ride. If not, you can still exercise at home – and so can the kids.
Not sure how to incorporate movement at home? There are plenty of free workouts and resources that are family-friendly. Give the P.E. with Joe workouts a go here.
Sort your sleep
Getting deep restful sleep is so important for managing stress and anxiety, as well as supporting our immune systems. But on the flip side, we struggle to sleep well when under pressure.
One factor that often disrupts sleep is too much time on screens. When we’re stuck at home and reducing contact with others, it’s easy to spend a lot of time on screens. Our kids love the constant entertainment from apps and streaming.
Unfortunately, the blue light that our screens emit disrupts the production of our sleep chemical, melatonin. This makes it harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, especially when it gets to bedtime.
Skip the screens for at least one hour before bed – especially smaller ones such as phones and tablets.
Try some gratitude
With all of the negativity and sadness shared through the news and social media channels, it’s tough to think about being grateful. But gratitude has been shown help us to manage stress and anxiety naturally.
There is always something we can feel grateful for. This is good for the kids to try as well, especially if they’re feeling yucky about the situation.
You can practice this in a variety of ways as a family. You might try:
- Sharing something you’re grateful for at the dinner table
- Write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day (this can be included into homeschooling as well!)
- Taking a quiet moment to think of what you’re grateful for before turning out the light at night
There are many herbs and nutrients that can help you to cope with stress and anxiety. But there are a few that we often prescribe to our clients. They include:
- Magnesium – this mineral is required for a healthy stress response, but is depleted during times of high stress. We can get it from our food, but it can be tough to get enough. That’s why we often recommend a supplement.
Although magnesium baths and creams can help, we suggest oral supplements. Our preferred form of magnesium is bisglycinate, because it is well-absorbed.
- Passionflower and zizyphus – these two herbs help to calm the nervous system and balance the stress response. They boost the calming brain chemicals, allowing you to feel more relaxed and less stressed. These two are also well-known as anti-anxiety herbs.
If you’re interested in using high-quality supplements to aid with your stress, you can book an acute appointment with us here.
Want to focus on something you CAN do about your family’s health?
Start by making sure their immune defences are as healthy as possible by including immune-boosting foods!
We’ve made it easy for you with our FREE Foods to Boost Immunity Cheat Sheet! Download your free copy here.