Throughout the world, millions of individuals and families are fearful of disease, death, financial troubles, and future uncertainties. So many things are out of our control. However, what we can control is our reaction to what’s happening in the world today.
Our job as parents and as leaders is to be part of the solution – to be the calm in the storm – safe harbors with solutions and positive attitudes – great examples of strength and courage.
Now is the time to walk the talk.
Let’s ask ourselves, “How can I be part of the solution? How can I help my family and friends get through this in the very best ways?”Most parents understand that children and youth ages 0-25 are extremely sensitive to fear energy--especially the kind that is swirling around right now. Of course, we need to be concerned and prepared, but we also need to avoid giving in to the fear that could be paralyzing to us and harmful to our family.
Here are 10 ways to cope – and even thrive – during these tumultuous times...
- Comfort one another.What can we do to comfort ourselves and our children? Here are a few ideas: prepare and serve comfort foods, keep busy, exercise, pray, have fun together, play games, laugh! Just being together is sometimes the biggest comfort of all. Go outside and enjoy the Spring. Feed the birds, notice that the trees and flowers are waking up. Take a walk and just enjoy being alive!
- Check your face in the mirror (and keep rechecking!).Your face and body language are telling your family a lot. Fear is real, but it doesn't have to consume you. You can show your children what faith looks like. Be careful how much news you allow in your home. After the tragedy of 9/11, children commented in schools about what they thought happened. Many children thought that hundreds of planes were crashing into buildings. They didn't know it was a video played over and over. Watch your energy and see if you are contributing to the fear your family already feels. Remember that your children look to you as their rock – their strength during times of turmoil.
- Turn on the music. Music has the power to change people’s moods very quickly. Fun, upbeat music can help us maintain a positive outlook. Hey – for some people spontaneously dancing or singing does the trick! If you or a member of your family are feeling frightened, use music to create a calm atmosphere in your home. Perhaps you may want to play soothing music in the background as you go throughout your day at work and at home.
- Find someone to serve.As we all know, serving others is a key to happiness at all times; not just in times of crisis. Look around… there are countless opportunities to serve those who are less fortunate than you.
- Shift your focus from fear to gratitude. Count your blessings. Especially during times of uncertainty, tapping into the power of gratitude – focusing on what we do have rather than what we don’t have – is something we can all do for our mental and emotional well-being. Let’s be thankful for everything good in our lives, every day.
- Maintain a routine.Remember that routine is a child's best friend. Routine means safe. To a child, routine means, “I know what to expect; I know what’s going to happen next.” Try to keep your family’s routines intact during this tumultuous time. Have family meals together. Talk about each family member’s feelings, if they want to share. Communicate openly, honestly, and frequently. Strong family connections usually result in emotionally strong children.
- Create a family “Wish Statement.”This is a statement, in the present tense, that your children can think about when they (and you!) feel anxious. It could be, "The (.........family name) is healthy and safe." "The (name) get through tough times on TOP!" "The (name) trust in God." Whatever it is, create a statement that can help keep your family armored against fear. Say it together, often.
- Explain “why.”Tell your children why your family is doing what you’re doing right now, like buying more food and supplies; washing hands more often; staying home from school and church. If you explain to young children in simple terms, without scaring them, they will understand “why” in the context of their different developmental levels. For example, washing hands so often can seem obsessive if you don't explain to children why they need to do this.
- Spend quality time together. This is a great time for you and your children to enjoy spending more quality time together. I believe there’s no substitute for spending unhurried time with your loved ones.
- Reach out to the lonely.It has been said that love conquers fear. Fighting fear alone is terrifying for some people, especially older folks. If you know someone in your neighborhood or at your work who lives alone - reach out to them with loving kindness. We need one another, especially now.
I send you my love.............
By Paula Fellingham