Most MN schools are now closed or offering classes online. And, families are being encouraged to practice "social distancing" (which really just boils down to the fact that for our safety and the safety of others, many of us are stuck at home.)
It's like summer vacation... minus the vacation and with a whole bunch of uncertainty.
We're entering into the unknown and that can be scary for anyone. But, it's even harder when one or more family members has a mental health disorder.
How can you manage your own stress reaction while also maintaining a calm home for your child/children?
How can Ramsey County Children's Mental Health Collaborative (RCCMHC) help?
How are YOU doing?
You've heard the old saying about passengers on an airplane who need to put on their own oxygen masks first before they can help others? Well, I think this ride is going to get bumpy for awhile so we better strap in!
Anxiety is a very common mental health disorder. It's also a very normal reaction to news about a pandemic and national health emergency! Try some of these suggestions to calm your anxiety so that you can mindfully respond to your children:
Hold a family meeting and make a plan. Feeling prepared can reduce feelings of anxiety.
If you have questions about COVID-19, call the Department of Health at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 from 7 am - 7 pm every day of the week.
Use trusted sources of health information to keep up with the rapidly changing information on COVID-19. (But, take frequent breaks from this stress.)
Use these ideas to plan and help kids cope.
Gather food or supplies that you may need. Create a list of community resources. Check out this growing list of programs and restaraunts offering free meals and support to families
Make sure you and your child have a supply of medications taken regularly.
Use coping strategies that work for you. Find ideas in our free Family Care Binder and also listed below.
Lean on friends and family. Laugh often. Ask for help.
Reduce your stress. Exercise. Get at least 7 hours of sleep... It actually works- even against viruses!
Practice Mindful Parenting
After you've managed your own response, you are ready to respond to your kids. Remember--- Relax. Reflect. Respond.
Talk to your kids about their feelings. Let them ask questions and help them to understand. Offer comfort and support.
Keep family Rules, Rituals, and Routines.
Take advantage of this time together- do things at home that have made you and your family feel better in other stressful situations.
Offer distractions and opportunities for your kids (and teens!) to get their wiggles out. Click here for projects to keep kids reading, thinking, and growing.
Create your own Calm Down Toolkit.
Remember- stress is contagious. Our calm response will help our kids stay calm.
Feeling Stir Crazy Already?
Try one of these distractions or calm-down strategies...
Eat healthy foods
Play (or learn) an instrument (Let your child try a harmonica but encourage him or her to take ir outside or to their own room.)
Watch a TV show or Read
Get crafty- paint, art, coloring book
Wrap in a blanket; weighted blanket
Use a heat pack or cold pack
Write in a journal; write a letter
Talk on the phone (friend/family)
Take a medication (if-needed)
Go outside; take a walk
Do a hobby-- or, start a hobby
Try an online support group
Talk on the phone with your therapist
Pray, meditate, take deep breaths
Use a fidget
Bake or cook something (alone or as a family)
Pace or repeat movements
Listen to music; Sing or dance!
Hold a favorite stuffed animal
Take a bath or shower
Use headphones or ear plugs
Chew something (gum, fidget)
Play a game, do a puzzle or Legos
Snuggle or pet an animal
Do something nice for someone else
Eat a protein snack
Drink water or Gatorade etc.
Take a nap
Turn off phone/ social media for awhile
Give a hug/ get a hug; Give a massage/ get a massage
Do some spring cleaning- open the windows!
Think about something good about yourself (or, about your child etc.)
Soak a hand towel in water and then microwave it for two minutes until its steamy. Place the towel on the back of your neck and then over your face.
Use a candle or essential oils- Lavender, jasmine and chamomile might help you feel relaxed.
Exercise, stretch, try some online yoga...
Try an App
Virtual Hope Box offers sections like: Distract Me, Inspire Me, Relax Me, and Coping Tools. Do fun activities and use mindfulness tools. Put photos, videos, messages from loved ones, inspirational quotes, and music in your Hope Box.
If you don’t feel like laughing…fake it. Science says that even fake laughing can improve health and reduce stress. It’s true! Google “laughter yoga!"
If You Are Struggling
Call your mental health provider.
Visit this page to learn more about managing a mental health crisis or emergency
Reach out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness- NAMI MN- Call the warm line at 651-288-0400 or text “Support” to 85511 or call 844-739-6369
If you have adult mental health concerns, try the Ramsey County Urgent Care for Adult Mental Health Crisis Phone Line 651-266-7900
If you have child mental health concerns, try the Ramsey County Children's Crisis Response Team 651-266-7878
RCCMHC has had to cancel our monthly trainings and programs but we are still here to help! In the next several days, we will be sending out text messages, posting more resources online, updating our Bulletin Board, and developing new ways to help such as online trainings and care kits.
If you need connections, resources or support-- please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text Wendy at 612-499-1121