As our children return home under less-than-normal circumstances and our aging relatives find themselves more vulnerable, we at Embrace Change have assembled a short compilation of ideas just for you as you move through this unusual period in time.
You are a role model, guide, and nurturer for all of those around you. You are resourceful and strong. As you contemplate the steps you take during this time of transition and navigate your roles of parent, spouse, friend, caregiver, and employee, try to create a positive and loving energy field around you. Although a parent’s natural tendency is to take care of others first, Teresa Simonelli, PsyaD, an Embrace Change team member who speaks about Promoting Productive Communication with Adult Children, reminds us that during challenging times, it is important to take care of our own mental and physical health first.
- Plan a regular time each day to be alone to think and plan.
- Exercise daily: walk, bike, hike, or take an online yoga class.
- Use calming relaxation techniques: meditate, breath, and use guided imagery, Tai Chi, prayer, and gentle yoga.
- Stay connected with family and friends.
- Keep a daily gratitude journal.
- View small snippets of news and take media breaks.
- Spend time in your garden.
How can we help our teens and twenty-somethings who are back home? When we are calm and grounded, our children are similarly calmer and more grounded too. They worry less, are less likely to experience anxiety, and are happier, more productive, and able to make decisions and creative plans.
- Treat them as adults: Provide or discuss safe ways to connect with others. Reassure them that the situation is temporary. Inspire them to think about ways to support others in their community. Talk about what they can do together in the future.
- Stress the importance of following COVID-19 prevention protocol.
- Routine is important in times of stress. Help them cultivate routine.
- Be a listening ear. This has been a tumultuous time emotionally and physically, and they may need to decompress and talk about what this period of time means to them.
- Remind them to devote time to exercise and relaxation.
- Be empathetic, yet set boundaries, and talk about guidelines for connecting with others as the weather improves. Remind them of the importance of keeping 6 feet apart while enjoying a walk or talk together.
- Give them space and respect their privacy: Students may have work that they need to complete for school.
- Encourage them to take periodic technology breaks daily and to go outside for some fresh air. Bring back the backyard games they grew up with. Have fun!!
- Be sure that everyone in the family has a role in household chores and decide on responsibilities together.
- Encourage adult children and students to focus on what they can do to make a difference. Encourage them to self-advocate.
- Create fun time and give them something to look forward to each day.
How can we help our aging parents, relatives, and neighbors?
- Be sure that elders are connected to others in their current living situation by phone or technology.
- Ask what they need.
- Reach out to seniors on a regular basis.
- Encourage your family members, including grandchildren, to reach out to them in a way in which they feel comfortable.
- Send cards, order food delivery, create a video for them, share photos or a new app; suggest that they watch a movie, read an article or book, and follow up with a discussion.
- Register a senior for an on-line class in an area of their interest.
- Check with your local Council on Aging for helpful hints.
- Plan a video chat.
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