Many schools and public events are closing down over concerns of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Families may experience increased stress and anxiety during this time. Here are a few ways to help keep your family mentally healthy during a crisis.
1. Practice self-care. This is important to do all the time, not just in a time of crisis. Read a book, take a bubble bath or do something else that helps you feel calm and relieves your stress.
2. Keep up a routine. Even if children are not in schools, it is important to keep a routine with some flexibility. Routines and predictably help children feel safe, especially in times of uncertainty. Check out some tips from Upworthy on how to create a schedule for children at home.
3. Talk to your child. Take the opportunity to share accurate information with them about the situation. Check out this article from PBS on talking to young children about COVID-19 or this comic from NPR. You can also find more resources for talking to your child from the Child Mind Institute, National Association of School Psychologists, National Child Traumatic Stress Network, Kids Health, and ADDitute (specifically for children with anxiety).
4. Limit excessive exposure to media. Set time limits for TV and websites. Be sure you are getting your information from trusted sources, like the Center for Disease Control or the State of New Hampshire.
5. Connect with loved ones. Reach out to friends and family to check on them, and to also get support for yourself and your family. Set up times to video chat and catch up with family. Social connections are crucial for our health.
6. Acknowledge your fear and anxiety, and then find ways to divert your attention. Children learn from watching others and will pick up on your worry and stress. Show them healthy ways for managing these emotions by acknowledging that you feel a certain way, and then move on to another activity that helps you focus on something else. Maybe you can read together or make something crafty with your child. Be sure to check out other ideas for things to do at home with your child from 4-H!