COVID-19 and Anxiety in our children

In the uncertainty of these times, as we are learning to deal with life amid COVID – 19 it is easy to forget that our children/teenagers may be experiencing extra stress or anxiety. 

We are busy thinking through our options in terms of working from home, whether we have enough food without stockpiling and what we will do in this rapidly changing environment.    In the midst of what we are dealing with, we can forget to check in with our children and teenagers about what they are thinking and feeling.

If our children are experiencing anxiety this can be an opportunity to remind ourselves and work with our children on helpful ways of managing anxiety.  For example, this may be stuff you already know but it’s good to be reminded again:

Be present in the present.

How can I be present in the present?

Take a deep breath. Often when we are anxious, we take shallow breaths.  When we are scared or anxious, we start to breath quickly and from our upper chest. As you read this, take a slow deep breath.  Feel your stomach expand as you breath in.

“What if?”

When we are anxious, we image “what if” scenarios.  What do we do with our “what if’s”?

Write them down.  We get caught up in our thinking.  We think because we think something it must be true. But it may not be. Most of our “what if’s” never happen. Get your “what if’s” out of your mind and onto paper so you have some distance.

As you are writing out your “what if’s” bring your mind back to the present moment.  As you breathe deeply notice how you are sitting or standing.  Notice if you are frowning?  Consciously relax your forehead and try smiling to yourself.  How tight area your shoulders?

Roll your shoulders a couple of times to relax them. Become present to your body and how you are sitting or standing.

What is one thing you are grateful for today?

Anxiety and fear find it difficult to co-exist with gratitude and joy.  When we are anxious, we often forget what we enjoy.

Remember what you enjoy doing – listening to music, watching a series, reading.  Remember to do at least one thing you enjoy doing each day.