Unique Times – Unique Opportunities

 

The impact of COVID-19 is being felt by everyone, we are all affected in one way or another. It is important that we don't compare our experience with another person's experience, or our ability to cope with how others are doing. Our experiences, and our challenges are unique to each of us. It is important that we treat ourselves and others with kindness, love and empathy.

We know that spending more time in close proximity can cause problems to arise more easily in families. For some, each day can bring challenging and sometimes uncomfortable emotions. Your children will look to you during these times to model healthy ways of dealing with those situations. I encourage you to look at this as an opportunity to teach and model healthy coping strategies and problem-solving skills.

As we navigate these situations, we can be comforted by knowing that we will all make mistakes, and that's okay. Mistakes are opportunities to learn. Take these opportunities to help your kids see that everyone makes mistakes, none of us are perfect. This is new and unfamiliar territory for everyone. So give yourself (and your kids) grace, and celebrate the things that are going well!

Here are some positive tools that families and individuals can use to help cope as you navigate these unique times:

Family meetings. Holding family meetings on a regular basis can be a unique opportunity to check in with one another and to process how things are going. Talk about what is working well, also what is not working, and how family members might be able to help one another.
Find individual moments with your child(ren). As you talk with them, have them point out what they feel good about from that week. Help them to focus on their strengths, what went well. Help them to recognize the reasons for their success. As they share these things it will be imprinted on their brain and they will begin to believe that they are in control of their success. They will begin to believe that they have what it takes.
Journal thoughts and feelings. Parents and children can spend a little time each day writing out their thoughts and feelings. Studies show that spending 15-20 minutes writing out (hand writing, not typing) your deepest thoughts/feelings each day is proven to increase immunity.
Practice mindfulness- S low down and notice how you are feeling. Name the feelings you are experiencing, when you experience uncomfortable emotions implement strategies to help you feel better.
Nurture your thought life. Pay attention to the kinds of thoughts you are allowing into your mind. Sometimes we experience automatic negative thoughts. Acknowledge them, but move out of them quickly. Keep your mind focused on thoughts that are positive and hopeful. When I work with students we talk a lot about the connection between our thoughts, feelings and behavior. When we change the way we think, focusing on positive things, there is a shift in the way we feel and in our behavior.
Practice gratitude. Focusing on what we are grateful for (even the little things) will help us to fill our minds with positive thoughts.
Validate the uncomfortable feelings. It? s normal to experience these emotions at a time like this. It may be helpful to unload them into a journal. Make a bullet point list of the worries, negative thoughts, etc. as a way of acknowledging them and letting them out. Then turn the page, leaving them behind.
Listen to music, dance and sing. Music is good therapy and brings us comfort.
Nurture your body. Put healthy practices in place, take walks as a family, as a couple, or alone. Eat well, limit unhealthy things. Give a massage to your spouse/partner, to your kids, allow yourself to receive one.
Find ways to help and support others. Call to check in on or to visit with family members, or others that may be alone or more isolated right now.
Consider what has helped you in the past when you? ve encountered challenges, and do more of it.
Let's not allow our happiness/joy to be dependent on our current situation. We can choose how we want to respond. We can choose to look for the opportunities, and allow hope and perseverance to drive us in this difficult situation, so that we come out the other side stronger than ever!