As Credit Union Youth Month comes to a close, we thought it prudent to take a deeper dive into not only building the financial futures of your little ones, but also the importance of their mental health, especially during these trying times.
The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every corner of the globe and every corner of our lives. It’s changed the way we do things, in ways many of us would have never imagined and it’s not surprising that most of us are feeling stressed and anxious. But remember, too, that our kids are feeling the effects.
Fortunately, there are things we can do to help our youth cope during this stressful time. Children take their cues from the adults who care for them, so if you are displaying outward signs of stress and anxiety, it will be hard to calm your kids and soothe their fears. Dealing with your own anxiety can be powerful in ensuring your kids feel safe and secure.
Here are a few steps you can take to ease the anxiety of COVID-19 for you and your family.
Establish a routine.
Kids need routine. As much as they like to push against it, they actually thrive when a regular schedule is in place. Whatever your new “normal” looks like, structure their day so it involves exercise, regular meals, and a healthy amount of sleep –especially for the teens in your household – as it will help regulate your family’s moods and worries.
To keep children from feeling alone, use technology to help them stay connected with friends and family. Let them talk with their friends on the phone. Schedule virtual playdates with their school mates and friends. Encourage them play games or eat together.
This holds true for the adults as well. Coordinate virtual meetups and dinner parties with business groups, friends, or family regularly. Social distancing is meant to keep us healthy, but don’t let it keep you away from social support networks.
Get the facts.
Be smart about what you are reading. It’s easy to get pulled into looking at or clicking on every update as it is reported. Consider limiting the number of articles you read or for how long you read about the coronavirus each day. If consuming content about the pandemic causes you to become anxious, take a break. Staying informed is one thing but being overexposed is another.
Stay calm by focusing on mindfulness.
Remind yourself that your family is doing its part to minimize the spread of the virus by practicing social distancing, wearing a mask in public and at small gatherings, and keeping your hands and your home clean. While it’s sensible to prepare for the future, it’s even more important to make sure you’re dealing with things in the present moment.
If you find yourself getting carried away with the “what ifs,” try practicing mindfulness, which is a tool that will help your family stay grounded and calm in the present moment. Focus on the present. Be intentional and thoughtful about where you are and how you are feeling. Sounds simple, but it takes work, especially when concerns about what the future holds feel so heavy.
Some mindfulness activities you can do with your kids include:
|Belly Breathing: Put one hand on your stomach and one hand on your chest. Slowly breathe in from your stomach (expand like a balloon) and slowly breathe out, letting your belly deflate.
|Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste, and look of your food. Don’t work or watch television while you eat. Focus on chewing your food and think about all of the effort it took to get that meal on your plate. Consider where food comes from vs. thinking food is an end product.
|Squeeze Muscles: Start with your toes and pick one muscle group to squeeze. Count to five and release. Notice how your body changes. Repeat this exercise moving up your body.
|Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders (and it will wander!), bring your attention back to your breath.
|Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors.
|Coloring: Find something to color and focus on the colors and designs.
|Listening to Music: Focus on the lyrics of a song or listen specifically to the voice or an instrument.
As we continue to navigate these uncertain waters, remember that your financial well-being is one of our highest priorities. If you find yourself worrying over money, reach out to us right away for a complimentary account review. Stress can be contagious, and if we can help even a little by adding confidence in your financial situation, you’ll have added room to be there for your youth.