Thursday, 16 April 2020

Tips for Parents: Managing Anxiety during COVID19

1. Parents should keep their own anxieties in check and do their best to model coping strategies.
2.  Parents should watch their "safety language” and catastrophic statements such as “this will never end” or “You don’t want to be one of the millions who live or die”   These raise the level of anxiety.
3. Parent should keep discussions about employment and money to themselves and not involve or discuss them  in front of the children.
4. Limit media consumption- (news feeds, radio and tv)- to once or twice a day.
5.  Everyone should ask for help when they need it, it is a sign of strength not of weakness no matter what your age.
6.  Keep as close as possible to a schedule for waking, sleeping and mealtimes. Involve the kids in the menu planning and meal preparation.
7.  Chores are good for everyone to do.
8. Answer you child’s questions with age appropriate information. Let them know you are there to listen if they have questions or want to talk, but take the lead from them.
9.  Focus on the NOW.  Today we will……

10.  Find joy and gratitude in the small moments: board games, planting a garden, baking cookies etc.

Monday, 6 April 2020

Why is it so hard to be bored?

Boredom can be both a force for good, creativity and new ideas, but it can also lead us to feel apathetic. But you have a choice which state of boredom you embrace.                                   


There are different types of boredom, and like most things, they exist on a progressive scale. According to a study published years ago in the Journal of Motivation and Emotion, there were five different types of boredom identified. 

Here is the scale:

Indifferent: When you feel calm but in your own world.

Calibrating: When you feel agitated by your repetitive circumstance, have a wandering mind, but do not do anything to change your circumstances.

Searching: When you feel discomfort and restless and begin to think of pleasant ways to end the monotony of your situation.

Reactant: When you feel a high level of unpleasant feelings and an abundance of pessimistic thoughts. These feelings and thoughts create an impetus to act to escape or avoid the situation or people that appear to be causing the boredom. You feel highly motivated to find alternatives.

Apathetic: When you feel this type of discomfort (much the same of reactant boredom) instead of being motivated to seek change, you retreat to feeling helpless and hopeless. You “give up.”

Boredom is a difficult psychological state.  

Being bored activates our minds to produce negative thoughts, usually ones of self-criticism.
Maybe I need more interests? Why can’t I just be patient? Or the the desire to flee, be it physically or by making unhealthy choices. 

To overcome the state of boredom, you must try to empower yourself into a state of kindness directed at yourself. A state wherein you judge yourself less for the things that are hard for you to do and except the “good enough.”

Monday, 30 March 2020

Tolstoy “The strongest of all warriors are these two: Time and Patience.”

One of the biggest struggles we all face right now is the almost Herculean effort it takes to be stuck in a state that we hate: WAITING.  In fact, it goes counter to our modern ways of no longer waiting for anything and our intolerance when things are slow.  Waiting is hard because it activates the part of the brain that makes us feel as if we are being threatened, as if we are in danger.  The “waiting” becomes an obstacle in front of us that needs to get out of the way as it is perceived as a  threat.

It takes a conscious effort to be patient, to accept the uncertainty of the thoughts that arise, the feelings of anger, fear and frustration that result, and the restricted or even regressive behaviours that occur during the period of waiting.  Being impatient often causes conflict. When focused internally, it tears up our insides and rarely does it help the resolution of the situation.  When focused externally, it can cause rebuke and even violence. 

We must be thoughtful about how we respond and react to the waiting:  the greater our response the greater the impact of the stress on ourselves, and on those who are with us.

Think about how you can build your PATIENCE MUSCLE. 
Be kind to yourself.
Be kind to others.

Remember that everyone in the human race is trying to build this muscle right now.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Mourning the Mundane (While Knowing that the Mourning Period Will End)

Whether it is due to the loss of the freedom to meet a friend for coffee, go to work, drop kids off at school, visit a grandparent, or attend a spin class, we are now a world in mourning.  What a strange sense of loss it is to have the entire world as we know it suddenly put on pause, with no clear time for its restart.  

It is disheartening that all of our reliable distractors, movies, theatre and sports are suddenly on hold as well. These are things that usually act as commonalities and sources of discussion amongst family and strangers alike. They help to measure time, and seasons. To have whole pages of our daily planner erased is traumatic, scary and unnerving.   

And then there is the sadness for all that is lost, the photos of events that were cancelled, the memories of experiences that have been postponed, and most important, the lives of those who have been lost.  

There is a  sense of injustice that many feel for the missed proms and graduations and the other rites of passage, the ununusual circustances of births and weddings, and everything else that is different, that will be seared in our memories of this year. 

There is a sense of loneliness for those who are suffering with a sick loved one cast into isolation or the funeral that cannot be the appropriate send off to a loved one.

There is concern for the paramedics, nurses, doctors and all those brave first responders who we usually take for granted.  Coupled with this is the prayer that no one we know and love will need any of their services.

There is fear for the jobs that may be lost or have already, and the businesses that will never reopen.

There is worry about what the world will look like after COVID-19.  What scars will be left?  What holes will remain forever unfilled? Will there be a sense of global PTSD? Will life ever be the same?

The sense of mourning is real and needs to be acknowledged by each of us. We need to remember that these thoughts are spinning in the heads of everyone around us, including the teens and children. Their feelings and thoughts need to be heard and not dismissed as an overreaction nor a selfish behaviour.  

Everyone needs to have someone to talk to at this very strange time. As the listener it is important to remember that many of these questions do not have answers right now, so it is okay not to have them. The purpose of someone talking to you, or you talking to them, is to merely share this experience of discomfort in a time that is filled with uncertainty. Allow for that to be the bottom line right now.  

Open your heart to listen to someone. Just listening and acknowledging their sense of mourning is helpful, and helps the world have a sense of humanity as it struggles to spin forward another day.

Like all mourning periods, this one will end. This we all must remember and, most importantly, remind each other.

Be that person for someone else today.

Monday, 23 March 2020

Dealing with the SHOULDS in the age of COVID-19

I am hearing from and reading about a lot of parents who are struggling with managing their own guilt and shame around being in a state of isolation with their children and having to add to their already difficult role of parent, chef, disciplinarian, consoler, teacher, etc. 

It is critical that we all obey the directives and socially distance from one another in this unprecedented time of global pandemic. But now is also a time for a PIVOT, seeing the road and taking the opportunity not to stop, shut down or fall into a sink hole, but to stand in place, see the obstacle and turn to face another direction. The new road will no doubt have its own  obstacles but on that new road, parents need to learn to travel with kindness and patience  with themselves.

Self care is NOT selfish. Be kind to yourself.

When the anxious thought is, “I should be able to do this”, or “every other parent is able to manage it all”, feelings of blame and shame are activated. 

 When our anxious thought is turned inward, we feel shame. 

“This is hard.”
“I am struggling.”
 “There must be something wrong with me.”

When your anxious thoughts are turned outward, we become angry and blame others, often lashing out and causing new problems. 

“If only the kids would just sit and listen to me.”
“My partner should be helping me more.

Remember that it is NOT TRUE that home schooling is a breeze in everyone else’s home. 

Remember that your learning style and methods may be different than each of your child’s.  

Remember that you and your child are NOT falling behind. This is a new road and there is no speed limit and no ETA. 

Remember that each sheet filled in and each fact learned is not more important than your child feeling loved, understood, and accepted by you.

Learning new skills is hard. Suddenly becoming your child’s school teacher is very difficult. Remember to keep your eyes focused on the new road. On this road, you need to open the windows and breathe. Create some fun stops along the way. That is what your children will remember.

Follow @mentalhealthempowermentday on Instagram for daily tips. 

Thursday, 16 May 2019