6 tips on How To Keep Your Cool During the Chaos of Covid
Blog Written by Scott King, Psychologist MindMovers Psychology
1. Know You and Your Child’s Red Flags
Recognising triggers within yourself and your child can help manage moments of distress and meltdowns. Notice your thoughts, feelings and behaviours that can contribute to your cycle of emotional distress.
We may be experiencing feelings of irritability, lack of motivation, anxiety or stress. There is a high probability your child is also experiencing similar feelings. We may notice behaviours of non-compliance, screaming, crying, avoidance or even physical aggression. These are signs of dysregulation. Changing one aspect of this repetitive cycle we feel we are stuck in can help us find stability once again.
To help your child feel regulated, parents must too feel regulated. We can address our physical sensations of distress through the use of mindful breathwork when exposed to a trigger and finding a quick minute between our day to day tasks. This can be done by inhaling through your nose to the count of 4, holding for 2 and exhaling for 6. This will stabilise your heart rate, slow down your mind and allow you to make logical decisions in response to your child’s needs as you remain present and in the moment.
2. Make Friends with Routine
During lockdown, your regular family routine has probably been thrown out the window. With many now working from home and children attending school remotely, our pre-lockdown routine holds no use to us now. But now it is time to make a new one! Children thrive in environments with routine and structure, and so do adults! We still need a regular morning alarm, breakfast time, work/school space, free time and bedtime. It is important we provide regular times for self-care and relaxation given we are at home almost 24/7.
Remember, we can still go out for walks to feel the sun on our skin, we can still release stagnant energy through exercise or family yoga and we can still take mindful moments by using our 5 senses to remain present. Our children are used to releasing their energy at recess and lunch, it is important we provide this for them at home too. Find time in your day to regularly take a break by engaging in these activities to help ourselves and our children through stimulation and movement.
3. High-Expectations, Low-Expectations or Somewhere In-between
Our usual expectations as parents and for our children may also change during lockdown. Perhaps they have remained the same. We have experienced a lot of changes in the last year, and so should our expectations. At home, learning comes with many challenges. Home is not our usual place for school. Our children are adapting and so are parents who have now become teachers. Remember, most parents are not teachers and are not expected to have their children learn algebra by the end of the week. It is important to note that children are learning at their own pace and can find certain tasks challenging without the support of qualified teachers.
By acknowledging these challenges, we can change our expectations that can help our children cope during lockdown and learn without the pressure of old expectations. This means, your child may not complete 10 school activities today. Whatever they achieve, we should provide praise and appreciation for their efforts knowing how difficult remote learning can be!
Parents – you are all doing a great job too during the chaos of Covid. Find your perfect balance of productivity and relaxation!
4. Maintain Connection
Lockdown has restricted our ability to see friends and family in a face to face setting. But this does not mean we need to completely disconnect from our social lives. We are social beings, and we crave meaningful connections. Socialising is important for our general well-being and mental health.
There are other ways we can maintain connection, whether that is weekly facetime calls with the people who mean so much to us and our children. We can have zoom game nights whether that is playing charades, online video games or even bake separate desserts together. Remember, we can also exercise with 1 other person, so if you feel you need a little break, it is okay to go for a brief walk or exercise with a dear friend or family member*. There are ways we can still maintain connection despite the many restrictions we also want to comply with for our health safety and the people we live with. *Keep up to date with current restrictions and legal guidelines.
5. Compassion and Passion
It is important during this time to be compassionate and understanding for ourselves and our children. We may make mistakes along the way, remind yourself it is okay and that you too are still learning. As parents, regularly tell your children that mistakes help us learn. This helps them manage their self-esteem and performance anxiety. You too can say the same to yourself.
Self-compassion can be practised by simply having your favourite snack or special homemade juice with your favourite fruits and vegetables. Self-compassion can be sitting in the backyard for a moment to soak up the sun and feel the grass on your bare feet.
We can practice mindfulness by focusing on 5 things you can see that perhaps you never noticed before, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Self-compassion can be practised by finally getting into the things you are most passionate about, whether that is finally starting your dream business, creating textured paintings or finally making that perfect backyard garden. Why not get your children involved in your passions too, it is a great way to share information about your own interests and to build on your parent-child connection.
6. Uncertainty and Acceptance
There can be a sense of uncertainty around when this will end with lockdown being extended and the constant changing dates. Let’s focus on the things that we can control when we have these thoughts and feelings. We can control our daily routine, our practice of self-compassion, engaging in the tasks we are passionate about, maintaining connection and remaining present. Even when we try our best in implementing all that we can, things still may not be great. You may still have a messy house and the chaos may creep into your home. That is okay and it is completely normal to have our ups and downs.
A helpful way of accepting uncertainty is through the practice of visualisations. We can meditate on the imagination of our dream holiday we are so excited to book when lockdown is over. We can focus on how that may feel emotionally and physically and what we will be doing whether that is sipping piña-coladas by the beach or getting a remedial massage by the best masseuse you have ever encountered. Our imagination can have amazing benefits in changing our mood and physical sensations.
It is time to stop perpetuating the struggle of lockdown and embrace the opportunities it can provide for all of us. Imagine who we can be post-lockdown and finally use this time to prepare for who we want to be. Imagine a world with acceptance, resilience, adaptability and awareness on a social and emotional level. We can do this together, happy lockdown!