How To Keep Family Life Balanced During COVID-19 From An LMFT
Your life has been upended during the COVID-19 pandemic. You're cooped up at home, with rising tensions as family members deal with stress differently. Economic pressures cause anxiety. And there are daily decisions to make about food sourcing, safety, and dealing with elderly family members. Yet there's a lot of positivity, too. People are renewing connections with friends and family through online meetings. They're reviving forgotten hobbies like painting, sewing, and gardening. Young adults are returning home from far-flung places and reconnecting with parents.
A balanced approach to reduce anxiety.
Even the strongest person will struggle with all the changes in society and lifestyle happening right now. What is the key to keeping you and your family emotionally healthy? Here are some tips based on the acronym BALANCED to help you stay calm and keep your feet firmly planted:
- Be present. Avoid wondering "what if?" which can lead to frightening scenarios in your head. Instead, focus your mind on today's needs and remain in the moment.
- Acknowledge thoughts and feelings. Notice "my thoughts are worrisome right now" and "I'm feeling anxious." Don't let the feelings overwhelm you, but examine the reasons behind the fear. If there's nothing you can fix, practice letting the feelings go.
- Laugh. Funny memes, videos, and movies are great medicine right now. Share them with friends, or watch with family as a bonding activity.
- Acknowledge challenges. Notice when there are challenges in your life, and face them squarely. Then, speak confident words of affirmation to yourself. You're smart and you can handle them.
- Needs assessment. Make a plan in advance about how to meet your needs and those of your partner or family. It'll reduce anxiety if curveballs come.
- Controlled action. Focus only on what you can control right now. Take action steps to solve any problems instead of fretting over them.
- Engage in physical activity. Do a workout with your partner, explore the great outdoors, or throw a dance party with your kids to banish stress.
- Distance physically, not emotionally. Social distancing doesn't mean you close yourself off emotionally from friends and family. In troubling times, people crave connection. Catch up with an old friend or an extended family member on the phone or via a meetings app.
Overall, it's OK to feel extra-human right now with all of the mixed and shifting emotions you're prone to. Grounding yourself in a balanced approach will help you savor the moment and deal effectively with today's problems, which are enough for today.
Jennie Marie Battistin, MA, LMFT graduated Cum Laude with a Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pepperdine University in Malibu, CA. Battistin began her career working with teens on Burbank High School campus and is a frequent guest speaker at high schools in Southern California. She has also been a facilitator for Angst: A Documentary on Anxiety, which helped create a dialogue of support between students, teachers, and parents on the challenges of coping with anxiety. As a mother of grown children, Battistin has a strong passion for helping teens and parents develop tools and resources to help navigate challenges and mental health concerns facing today's teens. The founding director of Hope Therapy Center Inc. Marriage and Family Counseling of Burbank, CA and Santa Clarita, CA, she and her team plan to expand offices to Orange County, California and Washington State as well. She is also the author of Mindfulness for Teens in 10 Minutes a Day: Exercises to Feel Calm, Stay Focused & Be Your Best Self.