For better or worse, change has become the new normal, creating feelings of stress in both children and adults. As we adjust to important changes, we can find ourselves weighed down by worry and uncertainty. How do we cope in an ever-changing world?
Emotions (happiness, sadness, confusion, frustration and anger) are necessary, normal and important. Emotions are not always comfortable. It can be easy to want to avoid, fix, or simply ignore our uncomfortable emotions. Allowing and accepting emotions can help us move more easily through them.
When you notice an uncomfortable emotion in yourself or others:
“Wow, I’m really irritable right now.”
“I can tell you are really sad about this.”
“That’s okay, everyone feels grumpy sometimes.”
“I can handle this.”
“I’m not always going to feel like this.”
Support (If You Can):
“I know you are feeling sad and that is okay. I am happy to go for a walk with you if that would help.”
“I’m feeling stressed. School is hard today. A drink of cold water would be refreshing for me right now.”
Life can feel imbalanced during times of change. When we are imbalanced it is easy to feel irritable, stressed or sad. Here are some strategies to help.
Unplug - It can be easy to check the latest news or spend time scrolling through social media. Consider limiting television (including news) to designated times or having dedicated periods of time without electronics. This will help create space for different activities.
Structure - When our life feels unpredictable, we feel more stressed. Structure helps us know what to expect. Create daily routines and household rules and stick to them as often as possible. A consistent sleep schedule, planned daily physical activity or household rules can add structure and predictability. It can be hard to stick with structure, so if you find yourself slipping out of your routine, simply restart.
Plan - Many children and families have had to cancel plans recently, such as sporting events, birthday parties, graduations or vacations, leaving people feeling sad and disappointed. Having something positive to look forward to, even if these things don’t make up for the canceled plans, can help. Try planning special activities for your family to look forward to and talking about it in the days leading up to the activity.
Organize - Sometimes life gets so hectic that important things start falling through the cracks. Even if your family hasn’t been leaving home much, simply taking care of children and your home can take up most of your time. Try choosing a new system to keep track of things and stick to it, such as keeping a to do list on your phone and checking it daily, using reminder notifications for events on your calendar, or setting a daily alarm to remind you to take or administer medication.
Self-care - Self-care can be simple. There are times when we go through a day without having a healthy meal or glass of water to keep ourselves hydrated. Self-care can also be indulging in alone time or an activity solely dedicated to you. Take time and space to yourself. Especially when you have been quarantined at home with your family for a long time, it may be helpful for each person in your family to have some alone time each day.
Express Gratitude - Expressing gratitude can create positive emotions and promote feelings of wellness. Beyond saying thank you, how can you truly express gratitude to those who you appreciate? Simply writing a letter by hand to a friend or focusing on how much you appreciate and care for others can be powerful. Think outside the box on how you can create or express thanks.
Connect - We are a verbal species. We love to talk! However, connecting can be difficult right now. As safety recommendations continue to evolve, new opportunities for spending time with others in person may be possible. In the meantime, make sure that each person in your family is able to make meaningful social connections on a regular basis whether that is by phone or video calls, through a gaming system or text. While connecting, listen. We all spend time thinking about what we going to say and accidentally miss what the other person is saying. Listen with purpose.
Remember,the stressors, resources and coping style of each family is unique and you are the one who can best understand your family’s needs and which practices work best.
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