Let’s face it there is lots up in the air right now, which is part of the times we’re living in. And things have been going this way for a while now. Change in many facets of our lives is accelerating forcing us to adapt quicker. This causes feelings of overwhelm and stress.
If the pandemic hasn’t been overwhelming enough, the fact that a senseless war recently broke out in Europe with crimes against humanity being carried out on peaceful civilians, has sent many into a downward spiral of feeling helpless and wondering …
What is it all for? and What’s next?
To answer the call of this reality, I’m sharing some strategies to help you and your stepchild cope with all the uncertainty, fear, and stress.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
During stressful and difficult times, it’s particularly important to name your feelings and create space to feel and process them. Whether you do it by talking about them, journaling through them, or doing something else.
What matters most is that you deal with these emotions and let them run their natural course until they subside. Doing this allows the emotions to get out of your system, brings them into the light and quickly provides more clarity and perspective.
These steps are just as important for adults as they are for children. When you create space to do this with your stepchild, you teach them the importance of this approach and how to execute it through modeling and lighting the path.
Create Positive Habits
Having consistency in the way of habits and traditions often helps to relieve anxiety and creates peace, calm, and ease. The brain likes and responds well to predictability. So, build some positive habits that lift your spirits and put you in a good mood!
Maybe you have a dance party in the middle of your living room for 15 minutes at 3pm every day. Or maybe you belt out songs in your car for 10 minutes. Or you can do a 20-minute yoga or meditation together.
Having a consistent structured activity to look forward to, like sitting down to a meal together and catching each other up on your day or going out for a walk, fosters connections among you and reminds you that you’re not going through this alone.
There will be times when things don’t go according to plan, and you might need to adjust the timing of the activity or maybe skip it altogether. That’s fine!
These things happen. When they do, respond with grace and embrace the unexpected by seizing the opportunity to do something fun and off-the-cuff.
Your stepchild is watching your every move and taking cues from you as to how to cope with these unforeseen circumstances.
For more examples of positive habits to help you cope with negative emotions, check out Episode 11 of the Synergistic Stepparenting podcast titled 7 Components Of A Stepparenting Sanity Routine, https://synergisticstepparenting.com/11
Create spaces, atmospheres and vibes that bring you joy. Organize your space in a way that feels good to you and is welcoming. Sometimes clutter can cause anxiety. So, set aside time as a family to tidy up the place to make it more inviting and pleasant.
You can add some candles and pops of color or texture with fabrics or creative projects you make together. Invite the kids to make some decorating decisions. They love to be responsible for important tasks and will surprise you with their creativity and how they rise to the occasion.
News can often create overwhelm and a swirl of negative emotions. So, limit your news intake and time on social media to minimize those stressors.
Find 1 or 2 trusted sources for information and get your updates there no more than 2 times per day limiting the amount of time you engage with the content during each session.
Stress Looks Like Challenging Behavior
In adults prolonged stress can look like anxiety or irritability, sadness, depression and even panic attacks. In children stress can look like anxiety or worry, being emotional or cranky, not listening, power struggles and even seeming physically out of control.
These symptoms are just ways your loved one is communicating to you that they are dysregulated and need your help.
Reflective listening is an effective technique for these situations. When your child or stepchild is expressing anxiety, anger, or overwhelm, calmly reflect back to them what you are seeing naming their emotional state. Ex., “I see that you’re angry.”
Be sure to stay present and give them your full attention. Be sure to avoid judging or shaming them or their emotions. Just bearing witness to their experience is powerful in and of itself. And this technique works great with adults too!
As tempting as it might be, try your best to avoid solving the problem for them. Instead, calmly encourage them to solve it on their own.
For ex., “I know that things feel bad right now, but you’re smart and capable and you will figure it out.” They will surprise you with their resilience and problem-solving abilities.
Stay In Gratitude
Fostering a gratitude practice is a great way to build resilience, uplift mood, and happiness. A good way to implement this is to go around the room when the family is together and have everyone share one thing that they are grateful for that day.
Coupling this habit with another activity your family does altogether is a wonderful way to build it into your routine.
Focusing your attention on the positives and blessings when others are in a less fortunate situation, builds empathy and compassion. You can even think of ways to help and give back. And teach the kids how to execute on those plans.
Incorporating these strategies is sure to help your family navigate challenges while nurturing deeper bonds to each other. And you’ll be teaching your kids powerful life lessons in the process.
For more tips to go synergisticstepparenitng.com/subscribe to sign up for my email list making sure you don’t miss a thing! As a thank I’ll send you my 4 Step Guide to Transform Family Chaos into Harmonious Co-Parenting.
Until next time, be well!
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