Mental health amidst the COVID-19 madness

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COVID-19 updates are continuously making their way into headlines, and it seems there is a new recommendation, precaution or mandate shared with every blink of the eye. Yet, while our physical health is what captivates the majority of our attention, our mental health can’t be left behind. 

In these unprecedented times, we have all had to adjust to a new kind of “normal.” Most people are working from home alongside their families and pets so focused on adjusting to their changing schedules that the mental health of their children may not be their first priority.

If you are both a professional and a parent, especially one who is now working at home with children who are no longer in school, there are several things that you can do to improve your child’s mental health and promote a safe, productive space.

Don’t be afraid to talk about it 

The best thing to do in stressful situations is to talk about it but always through a positive lens. Having conversations about the stress your child is feeling is vital to maintaining transparency and promoting a better headspace. Especially when dealing with kids at home, know they too are scared and can feel the stress that you give off.

As a mental health-focused nonprofit that serves students throughout our state, Engaged Outreach always encourages our program participants to count their blessings, not their troubles. Even when a situation is out of your control (COVID-19, for example), focusing on the things you can control and the different ways you can be proactive will help to create a much-needed balance in your day-to-day life. 

How to manage stress 

During these times, nearly everyone is experiencing some form of anxiety. If it’s not stress specifically related to physical health, it’s financial or even emotions brought on by social distancing. 

When you begin to feel overwhelmed, remind yourself to take deep breaths and find your way back to routine. Teach this technique to your children, too. Though it’s hard, try to maintain your “typical” schedule to provide your family with a sense of normalcy. For example, continuing to have family dinners and regular bedtimes can help your family find peace of mind.

Keep it “business as usual” 

It’s a good idea to stay up to date on the latest information. Just make sure it’s from a reputable source. 

When working from home, it can be easy to find yourself falling down the rabbit hole, but there is no need to cause yourself more stress. Make sure to spend some time away from television and social media to give you and your family a break from the headlines.

As hard as it might be, try to maintain a “business as usual” mindset. Continue to talk with your family and friends as you normally would, and if possible, talk about things that aren’t related to the current situation. 

Challenge your children to say one positive thing every morning or evening. Alternatively, you can also practice framing negative thoughts as positive ones. Change “we’re stuck inside because of COVID-19” to “we get to spend more time together.” Simple adjustments in your family’s mindset can help children and parents cope with the changes brought on by the outbreak.

Remember, nothing lasts forever, so try to remain positive. Not only will this help your mental health, but it will encourage your kids to do the same.

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