The last few weeks have been challenging, to say the least. If you or a loved one thrive on routine and structure, unpredictability can throw you and your family into crisis.
So, what can you do to help mitigate crisis and create structure when your regular routine has been thrown out the window?
Below are some tips from the professionals at Psychology Today and the Mayo Clinic:
- Plan ahead. This is a big one for our family to clarify expectations.
- Experts suggest identifying specific days for shopping, baking, playing games, crafts and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients.
- Learn to say no. Stick to your boundaries and say “no” when appropriate. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Additionally, providing structure during uncertain times helps maintain calm and makes the family feel safe.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Even recognizing and expressing that you’re starting to feel overwhelmed or stressed out can help take the edge off.
- If you can’t be with loved ones, realize that it’s normal to feel sadness and grief. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings.
- Be realistic. This isn’t a time to strive for perfection. Admit to family members that these are trying times for everyone and you’re all learning together.
- Set aside differences. Try to accept family members as they are, even if they don’t live up to all of your expectations. When you’re living in tight quarters day-after-day, patience can be tested and tension can run high. Set aside grievances until a more appropriate time for discussion. And be understanding if others get upset or distressed when something goes awry.
- Don’t abandon healthy habits. Don’t let uncertain times become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Try these suggestions:
- Add healthy snacks or meals to your day.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
- Take a breather. Make some time for yourself. Spending just 15 minutes alone, without distractions, may refresh you enough to handle everything you need to do. Find something that reduces stress by clearing your mind, slowing your breathing and restoring inner calm. Experts suggest:
- Taking a walk or stargaze at night.
- Listening to soothing music.
- Reading a book.
- Be good to yourself. If you’re feeling blue, pamper yourself, do what feels good, what you want to do. Try to take a walk, spend time alone if that’s what you want. You can be there for yourself just like you try to be for everyone else.
- Seek professional help if you need it. Despite your best efforts, you may find yourself feeling persistently sad or anxious, plagued by physical complaints, unable to sleep, irritable and hopeless, and unable to face routine chores. If these feelings last for a while, talk to your doctor or a mental health professional.
Above all, try to listen to your internal cues and be gentle on yourself. This, too, shall pass.