4 Ways to Relieve Household Stress While Self-Isolating

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns have put lots of pressure on parents over the past couple of months, and while you have a bit more freedom to leave your home now, your options for activities are still rather limited. As you try to balance working from home with your kids hanging around and taking care of your other domestic responsibilities, you may struggle with rising tensions in your household. Here’s how to address a few potential sources of tension and create a happier environment within your home.

Guest Post By: Emma Grace Brown Emmagracebrown.com+emma@emmagracebrown.com

Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

Has your family been neglecting exercise and healthy eating since you all began isolating? Practicing unhealthy habits can make you feel anxious, depressed, and irritable. It’s easier to manage household tensions when everyone is prioritizing their physical and mental health. Plus, focusing on fitness can be a fantastic way to release tension! Develop a solid workout routine, and choose exercises that the whole family can join in on.

It’s also important to clean up your diet. When you’re spending more time working out, it can be hard to find opportunities to cook, so Play Date Fitness recommends using an electric pressure cooker to concoct tasty, nutritious meals with little effort. 

Eliminate Fear

The connection between psychology and physical movement just can’t be ignored. When you feel fearful, it’s because your nervous system is in overdrive, and adrenaline is coursing through your body. Let’s face it – this has been a scary time, and your family may need to be proactive about addressing those fears. You may already know that exercising helps you maintain a more positive attitude, but what about slow, mindful movement? 

You can incorporate both meditation and yoga into your family fitness routines. These practices can help you relieve stress and process uncomfortable emotions. When you’re doing yoga with young children, Yogi Approved suggests doing poses together when possible – for example, you can pick up your toddler and rock them during tree pose! If you want to go further in this journey, you can also check in with therapist and wellness coach Stacey Reuille-Dupont, who offers telehealth services so you can connect from anywhere.

Indulge Your Sense of Adventure

Want to help your whole family become healthier and have fun while you’re doing it? If you’ve been cooped up indoors, it’s time to embrace the warm weather and get some fresh air. Head out the front door to enjoy some wellness-boosting outdoor activities together! After all, exercise and time in nature can perk you up, and everyone in your household probably needs to stretch their legs and blow off some steam. Activities like hiking, biking, running, and even rock climbing are great for people of all ages, and your kids may even discover a new favorite hobby during your outdoor excursions! 

No More Boredom

After spending such a long time isolated with your family, everyone in your household may be feeling a little bored – and you know that when your kids are bored, they’re more likely to get into squabbles! If you suspect that boredom is the cause of rising tensions in your household, it’s time to help your kids find some new hobbies. 

Both kids and adults might enjoy gaming together. If your family wants to get into gaming, you just need to make sure you have the right tools! For instance, if your children are interested in online multiplayer games like Fortnite, you’re going to need a strong connection to the internet that won’t drop while they’re playing. Companies like Verizon can set your household up with fiber optic connections, which allow for smoother gameplay and faster download speeds.

If you feel like everyone in your family has been on edge since the beginning of this pandemic, you can begin taking steps to ease these tensions. By prioritizing your health, making more time for outdoor activities, and leaning into mindfulness, you can embrace your time at home together and take advantage of self-isolation. 

Photo via Pexels

Creating A Boundary Bubble

Many people feel like they do not have control over what impacts them from the environment. They feel overtaken by the sounds, smells, other people around them. This mediation offers an opportunity to create a personal space bubble and take back your individuality in relation to all that is around you.

Ready to Make a Change?

And as always, if you are struggling you can schedule a 15 min Q&A appointment to see if it’s time to give yourself the gift of therapy. When else can you talk about yourself for an hour with someone trained to deeply listen to your core, not just the story you tell yourself. 

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Social Distancing While Parenting and Being a Social Worker

How many of us are feeling the effects of trying to balance our lives while social distancing? In this post a good friend of mine outlines her experience parenting, while working from home, while worrying about the effects of the global pandemic on her children. I think many of us can relate on all sorts of levels – parents or not.

Guest Post By: Megan Murphy, LCSW

I begin writing some scattered thoughts after the third night of tossing and turning and waking up with a sore jaw and neck, from all of the things my brain must be trying to work out at night.  I notice that mornings, I tend to feel strong and hopeful.  I am noticing that afternoons are really hard, and my mind truly wishes it could download or shut down, sleep or reset.

I am familiar with anxiety and depression.  I have dealt with these emotions at many different times in my life, and overall, I have been able to overcome them, or at least survive, cope with, and accept them in my life. 

This has been a very confusing time for my mind, like it is, for so many others.  My career as a Social Worker, who works with many vulnerable populations, including the severely and persistently mentally ill, has given me more strength and hope than I could ever explain in words.  I have seen people survive and thrive in circumstances, I am quite sure I would never survive.  I’ve seen the communities of the homeless, helping one another, and caring for one another.  I’ve seen families doing their best to support their own, with limited resources, sometimes limited intellectual capacities, and very often, with judgment from the outside world.  My career has taught me so much about resilience.  I am so grateful for these clients and to so many people I have worked with along the way, who put their hearts, souls, and brains into this work.  I have no doubt that the clients I work with, have taught me so much more than I could ever teach them.  I THANK them to no end!

It has been heartbreaking not to be able to support these people face to face, to help get them the resources that they need now more than ever.  However, I am grateful for a job that knows that keeping all of us (clients included) healthy in the short term, will only help, not hurt our mission, to help them in the long term.  Or, as a wise man (thanks Dad) told me, “sometimes you have to stay in the fight, to win the fight”. 

Parenting has been a whole different level of anxiety, acceptance, and resilience during this time.  I have two sons, ages 14 and 9.  We are beginning to work on schooling from home.  I have so many worries about this time in life for them.  For my 14-year-old, I worry about this time in his life.  He is supposed to be working on independence, separating himself from his parents and working on finding himself.  Peers are also such a huge part of learning and growing at his age.  It’s so hard to tell him that we don’t have answers about when life may be “normal” again.  It is so hard to say “no” to so many requests.  I am so proud of him.  I can tell he is frustrated and worried.  It always seems that right when it’s needed, he invites his brother into his room to play games with him.  He is an amazing human being.  I worry about my skills to work and teach him from home, while also paying attention to emotional needs.  

For my 9-year-old, I worry about his enthusiastic, open view of the world and an absolute need to connect, move, and be excited about life!  Lately, he has denied every request to go outside on a walk.  At first, I didn’t think much of it, but then I noticed he is anxious about it.  “Is it safe”, “what if I see a friend on a walk”, “Can we talk to each other”, “am I sick”, “are you sick”, “will we all get sick”.  “Are we safe”.  While my husband and I do our best to reassure him, we don’t have the answers.  He seems to feel best when saying, “family first, right mom”?  

While these things worry me, I am reminded of how much gratitude I have.  I do not have to parent without a partner.  We are able to do this as a team and take turns when the other is feeling overwhelmed.  So many do not have this and they are HEROES!  Sometimes, I get frustrated with my own anxieties and worries because I am SO aware of the hard times others have and are experiencing.  My life has been so easy overall.  I have never needed for a thing, and have always had an abundance of love in my life.  I feel guilty and ashamed sometimes that I have so much fear. 

I have parents who give me strength.  My father, a Vietnam marine, has this way of saying just the right things, to keep me focused and strong, during hard times.  My mom, an independent woman, who has been a caretaker of many kinds, keeps me sane with love and constant communication and ideas of ways to keep myself busy.  My brothers are both amazing and show me love and support, and I hope I do the same for them.

I have an extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, who check-in, send me love, and inspire me.  

I have friends that keep me grounded, strong, and grateful.  Each of them gives me something so special and unique and I cannot imagine life, or this crisis, without them.  We send each other videos, love, and ideas.  Let me tell you, these are amazing women!

The lack of answers is what continues to be the hardest.  I told my friend Jamie the other day, that while I am so aware that I am not alone, I “feel” alone.  She said, “yes, we are trying to accept and process something we have no answers to, and only fear.  We feel alone because we are not allowed to be around others”.  That felt so validating.  

So, for the moment, I plan to give myself grace.  I plan to accept that some moments I will feel strong, and others I may not.  I will do my best to show up for my family, friends, children, husband, and clients, with love, and understanding, that they too, will have good moments and not so good moments.

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Which Stage of Change Are You In?

Can you identify which stage of change you are in? Can you hold space for yourself with grace and compassion as you work to change your behavior, thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes? Can you be kind to others as they work the change process in their own lives?

Pre-contemplation – I am not thinking about changing at all, I see no problems, and I do not need to change anything right now.

Contemplation – something needs to shift, I might not know exactly what or how to make it happen but I know I need to do something. 

Preparation – I know what needs to change and I know what I need to do to get things started. I am seeking support and the items I need to be successful in my new change (i.e. getting the gym membership and new shoes, buying the right foods for my meal plan, finding a 12-step sponsor)

Action – I’m working on taking the steps that need to change. I am in the grind of changing my life for the better. I am focused on the daily steps to make my goal come true. 

Maintenance  – I’m doing it! I have changed my behavior, perspective, and my life. Now it is about sticking to my goals and keeping my eye on the prize for the long term. 

Sometimes relapse back to our old behaviors and attitudes happens. Work to get back on track as quickly as possible. It is not in never having a relapse but in how quickly we return to our more healthy focus that we want to measure our success. How quick do we recognize, stop the old behavior or thoughts, and return to the path of our goal? That’s the true measure of success for us. 

Overall, remember that change is hard. It can be challenging and moment to moment changes on the path. Your goal is to keep your eye on the prize!

Need more? Read Monday’s article on 3 steps to making change happen in your life here.

Photo credit: Social Work Tech