Counsellor’s Corner: How to cope with stress
Hello, my name is Sue Dean. I have been the School Counsellor here at WCC for over 12 months now. I’d like to share with you some thoughts around wellbeing for our children, young people and families in the light of current events. Good resources do exist online, so I encourage you to find one that suits your family. Here are some links:
Did you know our brains have a funnel like processing system? Information comes in via our senses and is funnelled or channelled through different systems within the brain. Too much information in too quickly can overload that processing system and we can experience “overload” or “stressed out” or “numb” feelings. So, if possible, limit the amount of information coming in. The younger the person the less information at once. Too much new information may create anxiety. Remember, children are not as able to express their questions, fears, or concerns as adults and what they don’t understand they may make meanings around, accurate or not – and usually not. Take the time to ask your child if they are concerned about anything to listen and reassure. You may like to say something like, “Well, I’m a bit concerned too. What do you think we could do to help ourselves feel a bit better?” The Black Dog Institute link above explores this idea a little more.
Did you realise that the single most helpful and positive thing you can do to reassure your child is to spend time with him/her? It is so easy in our very busy lives to put off that chat, game, or outing and yet it is probably the one thing your child is yearning for more than anything else – yes, your attention. They deserve it – and so do you!
In times of crisis of any kind the best response is self-care and that often means getting back to looking after the basics:
9- 10 hours is the average needed for children up to 15 years of age. For those 16 and over, 9 hours is recommended. It’s the single most important thing for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. Limit screen time in the evenings, especially for the hour before sleep.
The second most important thing supports the first most important. Exercise is so good for us in so many ways and it can be fun, varied and interesting. Find what works for you and your family. Take the dog for a walk or run. Ride a bike. Kick a football around with the kids. Shoot basketball hoops. Jump on a trampoline. Dance to your favourite music. Exercise, connection and fun! Winning! 20-30 minutes at least three times a week….or every day in social isolation! Lots of great YouTube videos are available.
Healthy food is also essential and supports both sleep and exercise. Time for snacks like carrot or celery sticks, fresh beans, sliced apple with peanut butter and sultanas, yoghurt and fruit. Too much sugar can increase anxiety and overactivity (oops!)
Video chats or phone calls with friends, grandparents, family, neighbours. We are created for relationships – staying at home doesn’t mean we need to limit them. Connect at home too – pull out the old photo albums, the baby boxes. Talk about the family stories, the memories you have of the kids when they were little-they love it! Read stories to your children – a great excuse to snuggle on the couch.
Time to explore Pinterest or Etsy apps! Think outside the box – cover the table with paper or plastic and put out paper, scissors, felt pens, glue, glitter and fabric pieces – see what happens! Make some playdough – with flour, Cream of Tartar and water – add colouring by the drop! Fabulous for calming restless bodies – young or old. Don’t forget digital creativity. A slideshow of family photos. Posters of how to stay happy, healthy or favourite Bible verses.
Have FUN!!! This is essential to great family relationships and wellbeing. Laugh. Be silly. Let your little kid out – your kids will love that too. Games – you’d be surprised at how many kids tell me they would like to play board games! Park the phones and do stuff together. Colour in with your child. Jigsaw puzzles. Puppet shows (make them first). Write stories.
My hope and prayer is that this crisis will become an opportunity for you and your family. May God bless you and grant you peace.