Everyone feels stressed from time to time. However, nowadays many parents/guardians are experiencing more stress than ever with the uncertainty of COVID-19, the disrupted routines, and the added responsibilities during this pandemic.
We know that stress is the body’s normal reaction to pressures from a situation or life event, for instance. Your body can respond to these current uncertainties and changes in a physically, mentally, and/or emotionally way. What contributes to stress varies widely from person to person, but what's important is how you manage your stress. Because “just like a virus, it can leave you feeling (emotionally) wiped out.”1
If you think chronic stress might be affecting you, there are a few signs/symptoms to lookout for:
- Changes in appetite
- Difficulty sleeping (falling asleep, staying asleep)
- Digestive problems
- Fatigue (always feeling tired, drained, no energy)
- Feeling like things are out of your control
- Getting sick often
- Irritability (grouchy, cranky, easily upset)
- Low self-esteem
- Trouble concentrating or getting things done
Research shows that stress is contagious. Amanda Zybala, Mental Health & Support Services Manager, reminds us that “kids are like sponges — they know when their parents are tense and overwhelmed. Children are like sponges for the good things too, though. They are able to learn from parents as they watch how they cope and manage stressful feelings and situations.”
We all need downtime to recharge as there’s only so much our brains and bodies can take. Here are six self-care ways from our Mental Health and Support Services team that may help manage your stress:
- Establish a routine. It’s important to create a healthy routine that includes your eight hours of sleep, eating schedule, exercise time, and some fun.
- Be realistic. It may be helpful to set boundaries with family and friends, prioritize what needs to get done, and be okay with knowing that not everything will get done.
- Eat healthy and stay hydrated. Make sure to eat fruits and vegetables, plus drink plenty of water which can help provide more energy, boost your mood, and keep your body healthy.
- Reconnect with the things you enjoy. We all benefit from doing what we love and, of course, some quiet time can also help (even if it’s just a short walk to the mailbox). Seeing you cheerful may encourage your children to also do the things that make them happy.
- Acknowledge your emotions. This is a challenging time for all and you are allowed to feel stressed, worried, and more. But the better we are able to notice and name our emotions, the more in control of them we will be.
- Ask for help when you need it! We aren’t meant to do life alone. And now more than ever, we need the support of those around us.
The goal is to eliminate unnecessary stress and help you manage the unavoidable stress. And while you take care of yourself, you will not only lower your stress levels but you will also teach your children to value their own health and wellbeing. You can be the example you want your kids to be.
That being said, looking for healthy family activities? Try these entertaining activities that is sure to get the family bonding:
- Cook or bake a sweet treat of your child’s choice
- Do some arts & crafts and puzzles
- Engage in yoga and/or mindfulness exercises
- Host a movie night and/or game night (i.e., Bingo or Loteria on Zoom with extended family members)
- Put together a family talent show or dance party (i.e., Fortnight-themed dances or learn a dance together such as El Caballo Dorado, Cupid Shuffle)
- Take a walk (following all safety and social distancing precautions)
To inspire more ideas, you can create a “family fun jar!” Work together to write down different ideas/activities the family can do, then have a family member pick one from the jar (like a raffle) and do what is written on the list (you can also establish a fun way to decide who pulls from the jar). Allow yourselves to express what you enjoy and take the time to learn more about each other. Be consistent, keep the mood light, and have fun!
In addition, here are some online mindfulness resources to help you weather this storm:
- Calm (relaxing, calming nature sounds)
- Headspace (meditation/mindfulness)
- Happify (games to reduce stress & build resiliency)
- Mindshift (manage anxiety)
- myStrength (meditation/mindfulness)
- FREE for Kaiser Permanente® Members
- 5-Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
- Calming Exercises for Kids: Breathing and Stretching
- Yoga for Kids!
Resources for a healthy sleep routine:
And a visual class schedule for Distance Learning:
How you feel matters.
Remember to pause. Breathe. Be kind to yourself. Have self-compassion. This means having a positive attitude towards yourself in a way that’s gentle, understanding that there is room for learning and growing, and loving yourself especially when situations are far from perfect. It will take some work, but even small slices of mindfulness techniques and stress management can make big-time changes. “This is a very unusual and challenging time. But, remember that you are not alone in feeling stressed and overwhelmed,” notes Zybala. “You are doing your best!”
Join us on Wednesday, November 18 at 4 p.m. on Facebook @kippsocal with Amanda Zybala LCSW, PPSC and Cristina Silva, ACSW, PPSC for KIPP SoCal’s November #WellnessWednesday — a bilingual community information session — where you’ll learn strategies and resources for caregivers, including techniques to help manage stress as you and your children navigate this Distance Learning time.
If you’re stressed, try self-care strategies.
If you or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide, call the confidential toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, or ask for help from your health professional.
1 Science Says Stress Is Contagious — Here’s How to Avoid Catching It (April 2018). Retrieved from Healthline.com.