How is your family managing emotionally as most of us go into another week of quarantine without a clear end in sight? Likely, everyone in your home has experienced a range of challenging emotions over last 7-8 weeks.
Anxiety, boredom, fear, low mood, stress, anger and disappointment are likely some of the challenging emotions experienced. You may have also experienced joy and happiness with having more time with one another and time to do things you usually put on the back burner. Most people have experienced many or all the above emotions, which is completely normal.
What we don’t want, is to have the challenging emotions most of the time. Carrying the weight of these emotions most of the time will take its toll on our mental health and the longer they persist, the longer it will take to get things back on track.
Keep in mind that our thoughts create our emotions. The problem is that often we don’t even realize what our thoughts are, or how they are negatively impacting how we feel. It’s not always easy to redirect our thoughts but it is possible with some intention.
Some suggestions for seeking relief from challenging emotions by changing our thoughts:
- Practice gratitude. If all we are seeing are the challenges and negative things happening in the world, we will feel the negative emotions. When you intentionally focus on gratitude, you will see the small, positive things each day. You might want to try having someone share something they are grateful for each day.
- Build in something to look forward to. This may be tricky but can also be effective. We are happy when we have something to look forward to (a vacation, a big life event, time with friends, etc.), and for most of us, that is a challenge right now. Get your kids input and try to plan something that you can look forward to this week. A special meal, take a drive somewhere for a change of scenery (if safe to do so), do research online and plan where you want to take your next vacation (when permitted and if you have the means to do so) or a fun, themed zoom call with family or friends. It will take some creativity due to how restricted we are, however, having something to look forward to can help improve overall mood.
- Reflect on something that made you happy in the past. Relive a family vacation, look at old pictures or share a favorite past memory. Just as having something to look forward to helps our mood, reliving past, positive experiences does as well.
- Talk it out. Talk to someone you trust to share how you are feeling. If you are concerned about your teen, encourage them to tell you how they are feeling and then validate their experience. They may not want to share or even know how to put how they are feeling into words, however, letting them know that you are interested in hearing about what they are experiencing may help them to open up if/when they are ready. It can help to get the thoughts out of our heads by writing them down or verbally expressing them.
- Have a goal to focus on. This may also feel somewhat limited based on our current circumstances, however, having a goal can help in two ways. First, it allows us to channel our thoughts to what it is we want to accomplish. Second, when we achieve it, we feel proud and good about ourselves which helps our overall mood.
As is always the case, if you have concerns about your mental health or the mental health of anyone else in your family, professional help is available and more accessible now, than ever with the increased telehealth options.