We are about 6 months into the COVID-19 global pandemic, and there is no end in sight yet. As a family of 6 (3 teens, 1 pre-teen, my husband and I), we are all feeling its affects to varying degrees.
To be frank; depression, anxiety, and self-disappointment are hitting some of us hard.
I recently read some posts by Dr. Aisha Ahmad where she stated that when in a sustained crisis, it’s normal to start losing steam and feel like you’re hitting a wall around 6 months. She said “the desire to ‘get away’ or ‘make it stop’ is intense… Right now it looks like we are looking ahead at a long, dark wintery tunnel. But it’s not going to be like that. Rather, this is our next major adaptation phase.”
She speaks about the importance of being gentle with ourselves and our loved ones while we ride out this wall, which should break naturally in the next 4-6 weeks. She recommends we take care of our mental and emotional health, and not to worry if we aren’t as productive and motivated as we have been. This too shall pass.
PLEASE SHARE THIS INFORMATION WITH YOUR FAMILY.
Our kids don’t know that what they are feeling is normal. Most of us are feeling these things too, but we aren’t talking about it.
I believe one of the best things we can do for our families is to talk more about what really matters.
We need to start showing up bigger and be more vocal about our feelings and mental health with our families.
As parents, we have a responsibility to be proactive in helping our kids learn ways to make it through this pandemic and times of uncertainty.
I don’t claim to have all the answers, but I do know what works for me. I know that I’ve spent decades exploring different ways to cope, heal, and deal with my own stress, and it’s about time I start talking about it with my kids.
I offer you what my husband and I have been doing as a family to explore wellness.
Start a Family Gratitude Practice
The first thing I invite you to do is have each family member start a gratitude journal.
Research shows that a gratitude practice can improve a person’s health, career, social life, personal life and emotional well-being.
Adopting an “Attitude of Gratitude” has made a huge impact in my life. I believe so strongly in this practice that I created the “Gratitude Journal for Teens & Adults.”
I believe this one routine can have the biggest impact that will last a lifetime.
Have Regular Family Meetings
Talk to your kids about how they are feeling and talk to them often. Some possible questions could be:
- How are you feeling today?
- Are there times when you feel nervous or anxious? When?
- What do you do when you feel that way?
- What kind of things do you worry about?
Talk about your own feelings and how you process them. Lead through example. I invite you to do this as a family and one-on-one.
Explore Professional Help
Utilize counseling and therapy. Normalize this as part of self-care.
We have benefited from marriage counseling, and many of my kids are speaking to a professional weekly. While my kids were initially reluctant, they trusted us and were willing to give it a shot. We also asked our kids to support each other when one was nervous to start therapy by talking in private about the benefits they have noticed by going through the process.
Imagine how the world could shift if our kids grow up being comfortable seeking professional mental health services.
Start a Family Wellness Program
Share your knowledge and learn from your family members.
Have each person teach activities that help them feel better, or learn something they are interested in as a group. This puts everyone in the roles of teacher and student, and each family member gets to contribute.
We decided to have each person be responsible for 3 activities for 1 month. My month consisted of:
- A guided visualization/meditation for total body relaxation. My kids often complain about not being able to fall asleep, and I often use this technique before bed.
- A mini dance party. I often dance to music when I want to boost my mood, when I am happy, or when I need to get grounded into my body.
- A laughter yoga youtube video. I always wanted to try this, but it did NOT go over like I thought it would. (I think I gave them something to talk about in therapy.)
There are no right answers when it comes to raising a family. We are all doing the best we can, but it doesn’t hurt to reach outside of our comfort zones if it means growth.
I wish you and your family the best during these uncertain times.
P.S. Please pass this along if you think it could help another family.