May is Mental Health Awareness Month. We will be bringing a couple articles to you about Mental Health. Today, we are starting with an article that appeared in HRHN’s Quarter 2 Newsletter and is geared towards helping parents deal with anxiety their children might be experiencing due to COVID-19.
The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) released an article on March 25thbe Dawn O’Malley, Psy. D., titled How to Ease Children’s Anxiety About COVID-19. The article provides five steps to help children with the new “normal” we are experiencing due to Coronavirus. What better way to kick off Mental Health Awareness Month than to tackle the elephant in the room? We have taken the article and summarized the steps for you.
Step 1: Get the FactsTo help ease stress, know what you are dealing with. To do that, you need to gather facts. Unfortunately, with this virus being so new, there is a lot of information and misinformation out there. So, it is a good idea to pick one or two trusted sources to get information from and stick to only those. This will allow you to get the facts without getting overwhelmed or disinformation.
Step 2: Establish a RoutineRoutines are important to us all but especially for children. As we try to establish a new normal, creating a daily schedule for your family can go a long way to ease the crazy times. Some suggestions for creating this routine is to still get ready like normal, try to switch activities every 30 – 40 minutes, and come together for lunch, if possible. Also remember that even during a normal school day, things that stimulate the creative side of each child are also worked into the day, so don’t forget to let them exercise that part of their brain at home too.
Step 3: Engage in Self-CareYou know we at HRHN are committed to promoting self-care. Well, NAMI also recognizes the importance of getting enough sleep, eating healthy, and engaging in physical activity. Caring for yourself and your children by ensuring these essential self-care steps are met is important especially during high stress times.
Step 4: Stay ConnectedWe aren’t talking internet connections – although I wish that those would stay connected too – we are talking staying connected to the other people that are important in your child’s life. Utilize the technology we are fortunate to have access to such as Skype, FaceTime, or Zoom to set up virtual playdates with your child’s friends or just allow them time to talk on the phone with their friends.
Step 5: Focus on the PositiveIt is important to remember that children know that their lives have been changed due to a virus that is making people sick. This may be making them extremely worried. Take time to reassure them that they don’t need to worry. That there are a lot of adults working to figure everything out. Talk about the positives that have come to light during this pandemic – the people making masks, the extra time you are getting together – try to find a positive story every day to talk about together.
To read the entire article, visit HRHN’s News and Events Page and click on Mental Health Month.