“Everyone in the world awaits the outcome of this crucial election… I made a decision to be cucumber calm… It’s the only thing you can do in circumstances beyond your control…Peace within… Peace everywhere…”
Annie Lennox posted this on Instagram yesterday and it’s sage advice (from seriously one of the world’s greatest singers!). With the election results up in the air on top of all the other stress parents and kids are experiencing (due to, you know, homeschooling, trying to work and keep ourselves and our families safe from a scary virus) it’s a good reminder to let go of the things that you can’t change.
But there are still some proactive things you and your kids can do to keep stress at bay during this time of uncertainty. Here are a few suggestions:
Acknowledge what’s going on
Talk to your kids about the election and about the virus and any other topics that are front and center in their minds. Remember that you don’t have to reassure them that everything is fine – just acknowledge that things can be stressful and scary but that you and everyone else are doing their best to stay safe and strong.
Get up and move
Whenever you’re feeling too in your own head or you see your child getting burnt out on screen time, that’s the signal to get physical. Whether it’s a walk around the block, a quick bike ride or a short workout video you can do together, getting the blood flowing can change your whole attitude in a matter of minutes. My son and I tried this video from Karma Kids Yoga together and we ended up hysterically laughing (and getting a good workout in!).
Sitting inside watching the news rehash the same results (remember, they need to keep viewers watching) isn’t good for your mind or body. Limit the amount of time you’re going to watch the news (or be on screens) for you and your kids. Be sure to get some outside time every day. Even if it’s raining or just uncomfortable, dress appropriately and brave the weather. The fresh air makes all the difference!
Taking a moment to acknowledge all that you have to be thankful for can seriously shift your mindset. Try writing down or saying out loud three things that you are grateful for each day. This is a practice kids can participate in, too, and will help reframe their thinking.
Reach out to friends
Whether you’re up for socially distanced get-togethers or just keeping things virtual, the power of connection can help you cope with stressful situations says integrative therapist Jennifer Bronsnick. Last week, my best friend and I (who I haven’t seen in person since the start of the pandemic) did a watch party on Hulu and it was one of the most fun, calming activities I’ve done in a long time!
Of course, parents and kids can indulge in treats of the food (or alcohol for parents) variety but the good feelings you’ll get from that won’t necessarily be as lasting as the above suggestions. Enjoy pleasurable things in moderation, spend time together as a family and remember – the things that you’re worried about right now probably won’t matter (or will be different!) by this time next week. The one thing that can be consistent though, is your active choice to have a positive outlook!