I’ve been on media all week talking about fear, anxiety and worry related to COVID-19. But what about families! Even in the best families, quarantine can make us all a little more stressed. Therefore, it is important to work on creating a positive home atmosphere. Here are 10 ways to do just that:

  1. Every day, ask your partner (and children) how they are doing. Take their emotional temperature. Is it rising, normal or spiking a fever? Then talk about what could help. What could each of you do differently to calm things down and normalize the days ahead.
  2.  Turn off screens and develop a gratitude list. A crisis often forces us to think about what is important and how blessed we are. Start and end your day with a gratitude list. Have everyone in the family contribute one or two items each morning and night. You could even place a basket in the house for items that come to mind during the day.
  3. Talk about news updates and how to respond. Are their concerns you need to address? Things you need to do to prepare for days ahead? Help each other if one of you is fearful. This is especially important if you have children. You don’t want to pass along fear to the kids. So make your messaging consistent and hopeful. Read scriptures related to peace and protection.
  4. If anxiety is getting to you, practice relaxation methods like deep breathing, meditation and prayer. Find a quiet corner in the house to be alone and regroup for a few minutes. Think of this like an adult time out when you feel overwhelmed.
  5. Keep tabs on your anger. It’s easy to let anger fly when we feel stressed and anxious. Try not to yell or argue. Work on patience. Be forgiving. Ask your partner to give you a nonverbal cue if your anger appears to be rising. Again, help each other. One of you take the kids to the other room if need be so the other can take a break. This is the time to practice good anger management.
  6. Provide structure for your family. Wake up at the same times, cook, clean and get the kids to do their chores and school work. The more you can stay in your routine the better. This requires cooperation and collaboration. For example, schedule work calls when kids are quiet and doing homework. Ask for devices to be off so people can have conversation or play a game. Don’t vegetate in front of a screen and engage in negative behaviors. Do positive activities like games, reading and art or science projects.
  7. Engage everyone in exercise of some kind. This can be squats in front of TV. Exercise to an exercise APP. Walk around the neighborhood with the dog. Go up and down stairs. Clean the garage. Be creative.  The bike that sits in our basement is once again being used on a daily basis. Exercise is a good way to let off steam.
  8. Use Zoom, Skype, FaceTime or some other platform to reach out to friends and extended family. Take time and stay in touch. This helps avoid feelings of  isolation or being trapped. Consider a game of Pictionary or charades on Zoom with friends. Get your kids on FaceTime with grandparents. Technology allows you to “be” with another person.
  9. Avoid medicating with substances including alcohol, on-line shopping or pornography. Boredom, stress and anxiety can lead people to want to escape in negative ways. Don’t dabble! If you already struggle with alcohol, ask your partner to help  monitor drinking so as to not make things worse.
  10. Of course, if you feel unsafe get help. If someone in your family is abusive or violent, police and emergency services are still operating. Reach out. Help lines are still in place and can be called. Do so if your safety is of concern.
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