When it comes to caring for children right now, there is some good news and some not so good news. A University of Michigan study found that parents are spending more time engaging with their children, but parents are also running low on patience as the COVID-19 epidemic continues to spread throughout the United States. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are under stress and we all manage stress differently.
Below are 10 simple, healthy ways to manage stress during these uncertain times.
1. Let the chips fall where they may.
In this article “I Refuse to Run a Coronavirus Home,” the author, Jennie Weiner, lowers the bar of expectations. Her humorous and honest look at how challenging it can be to balance work and family during the pandemic let us all off the hook, and remind us that learning is important, but keeping our wits about us is important, too.
2. Plato told us.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind,– Plato
flight to the imagination and life to everything.”
Sing, dance, boogie, jive, jump, spin, twirl, tap, play, enjoy…music!
Check out this short video called Making Music With Household Items.
3. The Moon and the Sky
Open your door, step outside.
Breathe in the air, look at the birds, the sky, the trees, the moon. Stay outside for 5 minutes, the next time 10, then 15, then 20. Repeat. And, don’t let the weather stop you. As they say in Scandinavia “there is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Dig out a hat, grab a jacket, go outside and feel your stress melt away.
4. Book it.
Be swept away with an actual book-book, or audiobook. Maybe you’d like to start a virtual book club? Here’s a link to the New York Times’ fiction and nonfiction best seller lists. Ask your online community for recommendations.
Here’s a list of what some of us are reading at Teaching Channel:
- Untamed by Glennon Doyle
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
- Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (a great read aloud with kids book!)
- The German Girl by Lucas Correa
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
- Born a Crime by Trevor Noah
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
So many good books!
When my kids were young and we’d be driving in the car, and they were…let’s just say, “acting out,” the first thing I did was turn off the radio. The quiet helped diffuse the stress and eliminated a sensory load. Because my ears weren’t trying to listen, I found I had greater patience to manage what was happening and learned that turning off auditory and visual stimuli can reduce stress.
Another idea is, create a No Phone Zone. My family’s No Phone Zone is the dinner table. My 20-somethings admit their phones are addictive, and I can sense their shoulders relax when they’re away from them, even if it’s only for an hour. They’ve come to know that at mom’s house, no phones in the No Phone Zone.
6. Slime and ‘Dough, let’s go!
Proprioception, our sense of movement and body placement is just one of the things we learn through play. Beyond what play teaches us physically, when we play we learn how to lead, how to follow, how to negotiate, how to take turns, how to win, how to lose and so much more. There are many ways we can play…from board and card games, to sports, to scavenger hunts, to color walks, to cooking. Speaking of cooking…here are two easy-to-make recipes, one for play-dough and one for slime! Fun recipes that promote…play!
7. Five, Six, Seven, Eight
Exercise helps regulate emotions and behavior, so if you, or your kiddos, are in a funk, get moving! Often, the hardest part of exercise is getting started. But, once we start, we’re on our way! In this time of sheltering in place, going outside for a walk, a bike ride, a run, can feel liberating. If you can’t leave, throw an impromptu dance party and get your heart pumping! Before you know it those endorphins will be dancing right along with you!
8. Drink & Soak
Whether you’re drinking it or bathing in it, water can be magical! If, like many, you are working from home, you may be making more trips than usual, to the K I T C H E N. A wise person told me that often when we think we are hungry, we are actually thirsty. So instead of opting for that bag of chocolate chips (gulity!) grab a glass of water instead, or, use water in a therapeutic way by filling up the bathtub and languishing in the soapy, foamy goodness.
The combination of sleep, nutrition, and activity is the foundation upon which everything else is built. When we’re tired, things are more difficult. Sleep, good food, water, and exercise help our bodies regulate and our moods stabilize, keeping us alert, healthy and strong. G’night, sleep tight!
10. One day at a time.
This universally-used mantra is most often attributed to Alcoholics Anonymous as one of the 12 Steps. The sage advice is in alignment with the teachings of mindfulness that include: paying attention to our breathing, slowing down and tasting our food when we eat, looking around and noticing nature when we’re outdoors, practicing meditation, and observing our thoughts and emotions.