Managing Anxiety and Frustration When Your Family is Stuck at Home

I am fortunate to have the option to work at home, and now, with COVID-19 and social distancing recommendations, it’s easy for me to transition to my home office.  However, for many of my readers and countless families around the world, the transition to staying at home 24/7 is not so easy.  I have been contemplating ways to support families through this stressful time and want to share my ideas with you.  In return, I ask that you “pay it forward” and share these with family and friends in hopes that these tips can ease their anxiety too. 

Above all else, practice self-care!  When you take care of yourself, you are better equipped to help others.  As we are instructed before flights, in the case of an emergency, put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.  Makes sense!  If you can’t breathe, how can you support your family?

Self-care tips:

  • Turn off the news.  If you want updates on the Coronavirus, choose specific times during the day when you will tune in to news or check online postings.  The more you watch, the more stressed you may become.                      
  • Practice moments of gratitude throughout the day. Be grateful each morning for waking up, for the roof over your head, for the smell of coffee brewing and for your family being safe together. Then, teach your children to do the same.  For example: I am grateful for the milk on my cereal so I can watch the “O’s” floatI am grateful for my _____ (toy) because I have fun playing with it.  I am grateful for my sister/brother because I have someone to play with at home.
  • Move your body. Being a couch potato will not help you relax and feel healthy.  Find an activity to keep yourself energized, whether that is doing jumping jacks, running in place, taking a walk outside with your family or have a family “move & groove” time when you each do your own thing while dancing to upbeat music.   

Get Dressed Whether you are working from home, helping your children with distance learning or catching up on projects that have been put aside, it is important for you and your family to get up and follow your typical weekday routines for bathing and dressing. Spending the day in your PJ’s might feel good for a couple of days, but that can shift into an unhealthy couch potato mentality that leaves you tired, unmotivated and feeling depressed.  Getting dressed – even casually – can lift your mood and help everyone in the house feel more energized and productive.  When the clock strikes 5 PM and you are ready to wind down, kick off your shoes and take a well-deserved break!

Plan Activities with your FamilyInvolving all family members in a brainstorming session around fun indoor activities will help your children to engage in those activities more readily. Ground rules: Listen to each idea. Create a list and include the name of the person who contributed the idea.  Kids like to be acknowledged and will feel more included and valued as you go through this process.

Set a schedule.  Routines are important for children and adults. Knowing what you can, and will, do throughout each day can help you feel centered and purposeful.  Use the activities from your brainstorming session and add daily tasks/chores for each person.  Blocking time for specific activities will help create a sense of calm and ease the transition from one thing to the next.  Remember to include time for the tips listed above. 

Embrace the slower pace of life.  There are two sides to every situation.  We have been forced to change our way of life for a period of time and we have the opportunity to enjoy the chance to read a book, work on a puzzle, have face-to-face chats with children and significant others or simply take time to “smell the coffee”.  Mindfulness practices reduce stress and help us slow down, breathe and appreciate the moment.  Try out a mindfulness app or download these mindfulness practices. Schedule time each day for everyone in the house to practice. Mindfulness can also be very beneficial for those family members who struggle with inattentiveness and lack of focus.

The bottom line is that we must take care of ourselves by reducing stress and focusing what we have available to us rather than what we don’t have, might have or are fearful of having.  In this virtual age, we have the opportunity to stay connected with others while practicing social distancing, and to spend quality time with our families.  While we may not have the same options we had a few weeks ago, we do have the option to choose how we move forward during this stressful time.

Hire a Coach.  Well-trained, certified coaches know how to support individuals and families during times of transition, stress and uncertainty.  We are NOT therapists, but coaches can help set goals and manage expectations, offer a sounding board as you figure out what will help you stay on track and practice self-care.  We work with you to set your goals, even though they may not be attainable at this moment, can be clarified and chunked down for action now or later.  It is comforting to have a partner as you explore new situations and look for the best path for yourself and your family.  For those individuals seeking coaches who specialize in ADHD coaching for children and adults, JST Coaching & Training has an online directory of coaches, most of whom work virtually.

Sending thoughts of health and well-being to each of you.