corona virus and mental health to deal with stress hissah ec abu dhabi

This is a frightening time of deep uncertainty and insecurity. Our generation has never experienced a pandemic of this proportion. Fear of the unknown and anxiety are perfectly normal reactions when we feel our family is threatened.

What Can a Parent Do?

To weather this storm, parents must care for their own physical and mental well-being. Self-care is not selfish. Self-care is essential. It enables us to take care of our family and focus on what we can control. We can,

    • Be aware of your own feelings and stress levels
    • Monitor our time for relaxation, meditation, exercise
    • Use a “buddy system”; have at least one person we can rely on to express feelings, fears
    • Measure doses of accurate news coverage; information overload feeds stress and anxiety
    • Eat healthy foods and keep hydrated

Families & Stress

This is a time of intense stress for individuals and families.  Children, teenagers and the elderly are especially vulnerable. Children and teenagers might not fully understand what they see and hear. For the elderly, this experience might trigger painful memories of past trauma.

During this time, we can help our family members, including the elderly, by:

    • Being doubly attentive to their fears and their need for reassurance.
    • Listening to their fears and worries
    • Allowing them to express their emotions in their own words.
    • Providing them with opportunities to play and to relax.
    • Giving them extra doses of love and attention.

Most importantly, we can be a role model. Remember, emotions are contagious. Your children will follow your example, not your advice.

Signs of a Child’s Stress

    • Disruption of sleep pattern
    • Complains of stomach aches, headaches or other physical pains
    • Wants to be held more often
    • Asks questions
    • Behavior is more agitated
    • Excessive crying

What Can Parents Do?

    • Remain calm /mirror proper behavior
    • Give child a sense of control: by teaching kids to wash hands; give them appropriate household chores
    • Spend extra time with child
    • Maintain a schedule or routine

Signs of a Teenager’s Stress

    • Disruption of sleep habits
    • Appetite issues (overeats or doesn’t eat)
    • Expresses worries for their own and family’s health
    • Conversely, seems unaffected and laughs off the danger
    • Loss of interest in normal activities
    • Shows signs of aggression and irritability
    • Sadness
    • Refuses to follow public health directives

What Can Parents Do?

    • Ensure that the teenager has true information and understands the situation.
    • Don’t hide the seriousness of situation but also don’t over dramatize
    • Avoid moralizing or laying blame
    • Monitor exposure to social media
    • If you can’t answer a question, find the answer together

Signs of an Elder’s Stress

    • Unusually silent
    • Avoids family members
    • Disruptive sleep pattern
    • Loss of appetite

What Can We Do?

    • Avoid “what ifs”
    • Balance doses of accurate news, information
    • Provide activities and opportunities to keep their mind occupied
    • Use humour to lighten the mood
    • Highlight past joyful moments
    • Provide opportunities for elderly to feel useful and needed

Families facing difficult times together often find new ways to develop. Let’s use this unique opportunity to cultivate, nurture and strengthen family bonds.