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Peri­ods of iso­la­tion and sud­den changes in cir­cum­stances cre­ate height­ened lev­els of stress, and it is vital to find ways to man­age stress and main­tain phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tion­al health. Pro­tect­ing your men­tal health and gen­er­al well­be­ing can be achieved through fol­low­ing a rou­tine, tak­ing reg­u­lar exer­cise, uti­liz­ing sup­port ser­vices, main­tain­ing social con­tacts, fol­low­ing a bal­anced diet and being productive.

1- Follow a routine

how to manage stress l how to manage stress and anxiety l how to manage stress in life l ways to manage stress l best ways to manage stress Famil­iar rou­tines can be enor­mous­ly ben­e­fi­cial to every mem­ber of the house­hold. Keep the fam­i­ly on the same sleep patterns. Try to eat at the same time every day and fol­low the usu­al pat­terns for play­time, chores, study and relax­ation. Stick­ing to a rou­tine will reduce the stress on you as a par­ent and will make chil­dren feel more com­fort­able and less anx­ious because they are doing nor­mal things daily. You may need to estab­lish some new rou­tines if every­one is spend­ing more time at home. Do this as ear­ly as pos­si­ble and involve every­one in the process of estab­lish­ing the rou­tines. Cre­ate a plan for house­hold chores and try to share the load. Give chil­dren time to play and relax, and even invent new ways to keep them occu­pied and happy.

2- Study

One of the biggest dis­rup­tions peo­ple are fac­ing right now is the change to study for school stu­dents and uni­ver­si­ty students. School stu­dents need to be sup­port­ed and moti­vat­ed to con­tin­ue study­ing even if they are not attend­ing school. Con­sult their schools and teach­ers for resources and sup­port, find a space and a time for them to study, and check in on their progress and any doubts they have. Also, under­stand that they are not going to be able to com­plete the same amount of work at the same stan­dard while they have lim­it­ed con­tact with teach­ers and class­mates. Give stu­dents some lee­way at these times and try to be a sup­port­er. Uni­ver­si­ty stu­dents are more inde­pen­dent and self-moti­vat­ed, but also need time and space to study, and some­one to talk to if they are feel­ing over­whelmed by hav­ing to study alone.

3- Exercise

how to manage stress l how to manage stress and anxiety l how to manage stress in life l ways to manage stress l best ways to manage stress Get your body mov­ing and your heart pump­ing every day. Phys­i­cal activ­i­ty pro­motes phys­i­cal health, of course, but also improves men­tal and emo­tion­al wellbeing. Exer­cise out­side if you are allowed and if you have space. Even a few min­utes of fresh air and sun­light will great­ly boost your mood, so make some time to walk, jog or move in the outdoors. Even if stuck inside, it is still pos­si­ble to exer­cise. Many fit­ness coach­es, per­son­al train­ers, health author­i­ties, gyms and sports asso­ci­a­tions are post­ing online fit­ness videos, host­ing vir­tu­al class­es and dis­trib­ut­ing resources to help peo­ple do phys­i­cal activ­i­ty at home. Do some search­ing and find the exer­cise rou­tine that is best for you, and even involve your part­ner and your chil­dren in a struc­tured rou­tine or some spon­ta­neous, enjoy­able play.

4- Use support services

Coun­selling and sup­port ser­vices are reach­ing out to peo­ple in this time of need, and are avail­able over the phone or online. Search for these offi­cial ser­vices and take advan­tage of the chance to talk to some­one, ask advice, share and acknowl­edge your feel­ings or ask for help. Sup­port ser­vices are staffed by trained pro­fes­sion­als who can guide you through this process, and they are avail­able at dif­fer­ent times and in dif­fer­ent languages. Also, many apps exist or have just been cre­at­ed, to help peo­ple cope with anx­i­ety dur­ing uncer­tain times so that you can access sup­port direct­ly from your phone.

5- Stay in touch

how to manage stress l how to manage stress and anxiety l how to manage stress in life l ways to manage stress l best ways to manage stress Orga­nize vir­tu­al play­dates or mee­tups with oth­er par­ents. Use tech­nol­o­gy to keep your chil­dren in con­tact with their friends and allow them to see each oth­er, even if it’s not fac­ing to face. Sim­ply see­ing a famil­iar face and com­mu­ni­cat­ing with them can great­ly boost a child’s mood. The inter­ac­tion can be planned and full of activ­i­ties for the chil­dren, or just spontaneous. Don’t for­get to take some time for your­self to stay in con­tact with friends and fam­i­ly, using the same tech­nol­o­gy. Share a sto­ry, share your feel­ings, or even chat about the TV series you’re watching.

6- Turn back the clock

Remem­ber pen pals? Peo­ple con­nect­ed this way before the inter­net, and the postal ser­vice is still oper­at­ing, so it is pos­si­ble to write let­ters to peo­ple from far-flung coun­tries (or in the same city) and to learn about their lives and personalities. Find­ing a pen pal for your chil­dren has the bonus of work­ing on their lit­er­a­cy skills and handwriting.

7- Eat well

A healthy diet will strength­en your immune sys­tem and pro­tect you from ill­ness. It will also help pro­tect the health of peo­ple around you. Avoid the temp­ta­tion to overeat com­fort food, fol­low a healthy diet, and allow your­self a treat from time to time.

8- Practice patience

Every­body feels more stress and can expe­ri­ence more frus­tra­tion at times of great uncer­tain­ty, espe­cial­ly when being forced to stay inside for long peri­ods. So, if a child is cry­ing more than usu­al, a teenag­er is mop­ing, or irri­ta­ble more than usu­al, or sib­lings are fight­ing more than they would nor­mal­ly, remem­ber the cause of this behaviour. Don’t dwell on sit­u­a­tions that could have turned out dif­fer­ent­ly and don’t be too hard on your­self or oth­ers for lit­tle things that get on your nerves. Remem­ber that days are going to be hard for every­one and try to be patient and forgiving. Remem­ber to be con­sis­tent when dis­ci­plin­ing chil­dren. Set and enforce lim­its that are appro­pri­ate to the child’s age and devel­op­ment. Also, open com­mu­ni­ca­tion with your chil­dren to ask how they are feel­ing and to tell them how you are feel­ing as a result of their behaviour.

9- Be productive

Get­ting tasks done and achiev­ing goals great­ly boosts self-esteem, so find ways to be pro­duc­tive while at home. Apart from work­ing from home, to pay the bills, there are oth­er ways to stay productive. Take a course online, learn a new skill online, check in on fam­i­ly and friends to see how they are cop­ing with change, or make use of the time to com­plete house­hold tasks that you had been plan­ning to get done for some time. Also, make time to do some­thing enjoy­able. Dust off the enor­mous puz­zle and chal­lenge your­self and your fam­i­ly to com­plete it. Invite your chil­dren to car­ry out some (safe) sci­ence exper­i­ments or to com­plete an art and craft project. Tap into a child’s imag­i­na­tion and make up sto­ries which they can write and illus­trate, before read­ing them to each oth­er, to friends, to grand­par­ents or others. It can be use­ful to plan activ­i­ties that can be done in an hour, a day, or an extend­ed peri­od, and to con­grat­u­late your­self and each oth­er when they are com­plete. Keep­ing your mind busy dur­ing iso­la­tion is extreme­ly beneficial.

10- Switch off

Avoid spend­ing too much time watch­ing the news and fol­low­ing social media. Most of the news is inevitably going to be neg­a­tive, and this can direct­ly affect your mood and your men­tal health. Try to put a lim­it on how much time you will spend on social media and on watch­ing, read­ing or lis­ten­ing to the news, and try to do the same for your children. When chil­dren are exposed to con­stant news about crises, this can cause wor­ry, fear and stress, which can, in turn, lead to irri­tabil­i­ty or act­ing out, unhealthy eat­ing and sleep habits, exces­sive sad­ness, inabil­i­ty to con­cen­trate and gen­er­al­ly poor wellbeing.

11- Trusted sources

Experts also empha­size the impor­tance of using trust­ed infor­ma­tion sources dur­ing these times. Search for offi­cial orga­ni­za­tions and health experts to find the most accu­rate infor­ma­tion, and try to ignore infor­ma­tion from unre­li­able ran­dom sources which always sur­faces dur­ing these times. Fur­ther­more, learn about COVID-19 from these trust­ed sources and how to best pro­tect your­self and your fam­i­ly from the disease. Final­ly, take some time out for your­self. Find an activ­i­ty that helps you to escape from your sur­round­ings or to escape into your­self, and try to make this time every day. Do some yoga, read a book, lis­ten to music or play music, do some gar­den­ing or cook a dish you’ve always want­ed to try. Make time to treat your­self and do some­thing that helps you to relax. So, find some time to cre­ate a plan for fol­low­ing these sim­ple steps. Estab­lish a rou­tine and do every­thing you can to stick to that rou­tine. Eat a bal­anced diet with occa­sion­al guilty treats, and use tech­nol­o­gy to help you and your chil­dren stay in touch with friends. Make an effort to do some exer­cise and take some fresh air where pos­si­ble, and make use of exist­ing sup­port ser­vices if you are feel­ing under pressure. Most impor­tant­ly, don’t for­get to take some time to be by your­self and do some­thing that makes you hap­py. This way, you can main­tain your phys­i­cal, men­tal and emo­tion­al health dur­ing times of unprece­dent­ed change.

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