Life is shockingly different this fall during the start of the school year. Your kids may be going back to school with new guidelines, working remotely from home, going to a learning pod, etc., which lead to the questions:
How do kids handle change? Not great.
How do adults handle change? Not great, but can usually hide it better.
We are in a challenging and stressful time that has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health. Here are some tips to help us get through one of the weirdest times in history and to decrease stress in both parents and kids (they have mental health needs too! (1; 2)).
Tip #1 Give Yourself and Your Child Some Empathy!
I hate to tell you, but you and your child will most likely not be your best selves during this time. There may be less productivity, self-discipline, and an overall decrease in work ethic during this time and that is okay! Perfection is never achievable and surely won’t be in reach during this complex chaos. Allow yourself and your child to practice acceptance and positive self talk because I bet you are doing great. Celebrate the small wins, like finally putting on jeans instead of pajama pants!
Tip #2 Get Moving
The mind and body are connected, which is even more apparent during times of stress and anxiety. For kids, this may result in behavior or physical problems that may have not previously existed (like isolation, lashing out, impatience, difficulty sleeping, or random stomach aches (1)).
Movement or exercise is a great way to trick your body into calming down (2). Movement can look different for everyone (for example, yoga, park walks, sports, swimming, dancing, and YouTube workouts are all great!). It doesn’t matter what type of movement you’re doing, as long as you are moving. Movement causes your body to release endorphins, which are great for mental health (3). Bonus: endorphins are also great for pain relief!
Tip #3 Calm Your Mind and Body
Don’t you love when someone tells you to calm down? Me neither.
When in stress, your body is experiencing similar effects to how you would feel being chased by a lion. Yikes. This stress state is meant to be a temporary response to an immediate threat (4). However, in our stressed-out society, we are in this state for long periods of time, which have some negative impacts on health (5). How do we get out of this state?
Deep breathing is an easy and effective way to bring your body back to a calm state (2). There are tons of breathing exercises for kids and adults so find your favorite on Youtube!
Another way to bring yourself back to calm is to engage your five senses. This is extremely helpful for kids who are in an anxious or stressed state. Pay attention to your surroundings or take a walk outside while purposely engaging your senses of sight, smell, hearing, touch, and taste.
Tip #4 Make Time for Some Fun!
Fun may not be on the priority list if you are feeling stressed, however it can actually decrease stress in both parents and kids (2). Whether it is creating art, having a dance party, watching funny videos, playing a game, etc., fun should be a top priority during challenging times.
Tip #5 Ask for Help
If this time has been very overwhelming for you and/or your family and you are feeling hopeless, depressed, anxious, or just not okay, it may be worth reaching out and getting some tools to deal with your individual needs (2).
It is a sign of strength and courage to advocate for you and your child’s mental well-being. You can get through this complex time and experience a fulfilling life. You got this!