Guest post by Derek Goodman
Many families across the country are dealing with extra tension and stress as they self-isolated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Know that you’re not alone. It’s essential to address any issues that are causing tension so that you can promote healthy relationships with one another and thrive in these strange times.
Below are five practical ways to decrease the stress and strengthen your bonds when you’re stuck at home together.
1. Encourage more exercise
There is no question that regular exercise reduces stress. It’s important for everyone in the family to make physical exercise a part of their daily routine. If you have children at home, find activities that feel more like fun so they can get in the requisite 60 minutes of activity they need every day. If you and your spouse are at home while the kids are at school, take advantage of that time so you can each get in a regular workout.
Not sure where to start? Look for online classes or specialized home workouts that motivate you to get moving. You can also look into smartwatches to help you keep track of your fitness goals — you can even pick out fashionable watch bands for the kids featuring some of their favorite characters from Disney and Star Wars.
2. Get support
Remember that it’s important to get help when you need it. Even though it has lessened, there is still a stigma that comes with therapy and other mental health services. PsychCentral notes there is no denying that it can significantly help people lead healthier lives, whether or not they are dealing with severe mental health issues.
Find a reputable mental health professional who can walk with you through various challenges. Almost all therapists offer telehealth now, so you won’t need to worry about the stress of visiting in person.
3. Prioritize communication
Another way to reduce the tension and stress in your home is to make communication a priority. Oftentimes, the biggest problems within a family are left unaddressed, which leads to them festering until they become much bigger than they should. Get in the habit of addressing conflict early on, and learn how to communicate your thoughts and feelings with one another in an effective and gentle way.
Each of you should also stay connected with friends and family members outside of your household. Lack of social interaction, which has been a common consequence of the pandemic, can quickly lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression.
Take advantage of technologies like video chat and online gaming to maintain your most important relationships. If you need to invest in a new device for yourself or the kids to help encourage connection, a little homework makes it easy to tap into savings on smartphones, tablets and Chromebooks.
4. Head outdoors
Something else you can do to alleviate tension is to enjoy activities together outside. Tons of health benefits come from being outdoors. There are many activities you can do together as a family while still keeping a distance from others.
For example, you could go head to the trails for some mountain biking or hiking. You can go picnicking at the park or plan a weekend getaway at the beach. You could even set up a place in your backyard to do activities like volleyball, yoga, or cornhole. Discuss with your family some possible activities and trips to see what ideas spark excitement.
5. Structure your workday
Finally, few things can cause tension and stress in a household more than working from home. If you are telecommuting or running a business from home, it’s essential that you develop and maintain a routine that allows you to work productively while also considering the needs of others your family members.
Your daily schedule will likely depend on the age of your children and/or their school schedule, among other factors. In other words, no single routine is the answer for everyone; it really comes down to your work style, your responsibilities, and coming up with a strategy that works for your situation.
Self-isolating can take a toll on your relationships. That’s why it’s so important to take the tension and stress head-on so that your family can thrive. Keep the tips listed here in mind, and make sure you and your family members are allowing each other plenty of grace during these strange, uncertain times.
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