Keep Calm, Cope On!

With schools closed and many parents working from home without childcare for the foreseeable future, it’s hard not to start spiraling. While health and physical safety are important, it is also important to be aware of how you and your children are feeling and thinking about the crisis.

Here are some ways that you can support your children during the Coronavirus Crisis:

  • Try to keep a daily routine. Children need routine, and making a family schedule together will help them feel included.  In the daily schedule try to include: education time, rest time, exercise, chores and family fun.
  • Choose what information you share carefully, but keep them informed—not all news is helpful or useful.
  • Limit screen time during family activities like meals, chores, and family fun. Distant socializing by using technology is a wonderful tool to maintain physical distance and stay connected, but don’t underestimate the benefit of face-to-face time that families can share.
  • Most of all, be consistent! Now more than ever responsibilities seem endless, the situation dire, and it seems like time to yourself has become a thing of the past. Incorporating these habits in your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.

When things start to feel overwhelming, and they inevitably will, incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help take the pressure off. Try some of these out alone, and with your family:

  • Squeeze Muscles: Starting at your toes, pick one muscle and squeeze it tight. Count to five. Release, and notice how your body changes. Repeat exercise moving up your body. Which area was most tense?
  • 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 (deflate). Repeat 5 times
  • Mindful Meal: Pay attention to the smell, taste and look of your food during a meal or snack. No multitasking—focus on being present in the moment.
  • Meditation: Sit in a relaxed, comfortable position. Pick something to focus on, like your breath. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. Never meditated before? Try for a couple minutes at first, or listen to a guided meditation.
  • Blowing Bubbles: Notice their shapes, textures and colors. How many bubbles can you blow with one breath? Watch them float away, or pop them all!
  • Coloring: Pick your favorite colors and go to town! Focus on the way the colors blend, and the overall image. Prefer to start with an outline? Look up some free mandala designs online!

There may come a time when your family needs more support, here are some local and national resources:

  • Safe & Sound 24 Hour Parent Talk Line:
    • (415) 441-5437
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
  • Trevor Project Hotline:
    • 866-488-7386
  • Sentara RMH Psychiatric Emergency Team (PET):
    • (540) 689-1000; Ask that PET be paged
  • Police Non-Emergency Number:
    • Harrisonburg City: (540) 434-4436
    • Rockingham County Sherriff’s Department: (540) 564-3800
  • Harrisonburg-Rockingham CSB 24/7 Emergency Services:
    • (540) 434-1766