COVID-19 Raising the need for resilience - Bounce Forward

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27th March 2020

COVID-19 Raising the need for resilience

Our CEO, Lucy Bailey suggests some top tips to help parents thrive at home 

With us all staying safe at home, we are reacting to some very new challenges – home schooling, working from home and parental demands, learning new e- skills, to name a few. There has never been a more important moment to remain optimistic and realistic in equal measure.

I have studied resilience for the past 15 years and trained thousands of teachers and parents in how to build resilience in children and young people. On March the 15th I woke with ‘symptoms’ and the dawning realisation that COVID-19 was serious. Like many people’s, my sense of being felt frayed, my mind consumed by the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on our health, loved ones — not to mention an abrupt end to all Bounce Forward’s scheduled work — how do we remain resilient and look after our well-being and that of our children?

Here are some top tips for responding to COVID-19:

Kindness and compassion for self 

Are you spending a lot of your day and evening ‘doing’ – cooking, cleaning, schooling, working, caring for elderly family members? Life at home right now is new and different, but the way you tend to yourself is hugely important not only for yourself but also for your children and others in the household. Practice kindness and compassion for yourself:

  • Scan your morning, afternoon and evening for your achievements, give yourself a pat on the back. However small the achievement seems and long the ‘to do’ list remains, you are making progress. 
  • Keep a list of all the good things you do and think of it as your ‘note to self’ list that will jog your thinking and remind you that you are doing a great job in really difficult circumstances.
  • Mark out some ‘me time’, tell everyone that it is your time and stick to it. 
  • Be good enough, not perfect – lower the expectation of yourself and your children. 
  • Remember YOU are important, amazing and unique.

Harness emotions 

We are all feeling things all of the time, but we can tend to only pay attention to negative emotions. Positive emotions are useful is so many ways. They help with: 

  • Creative and lateral thinking and ability to problem solve 
  • Strength, coordination, cardiovascular health 
  • Overcoming setbacks and reaching our goals
  • Maintaining and creating new social bonds  

Harnessing negative emotions and building into the day things that make us feel positive emotions is vital for resilience. 

  • WATER SOOTHER – Water has natural properties that can have a soothing effect on both mind and body. Running a warm bubble bath and then cooling off afterwards in the shower can make you feel refreshed and stimulate your blood flow. Alternating between warmer and colder water in the shower can achieve the same benefits. Holding ice cubes in your hands until they melt can also be a good way to calm down and focus on something else.
  • VISUALISE DEALING WITH STRONG EMOTIONS – Imagine stepping outside of your mind. Imagine climbing some stairs to a balcony above and looking down on your situation below. Seeing the situation from a distance. Not trying to change anything but just seeing it from above, away from it, not directly involved. Think about the advice you would give to deal with this in the best way?
  • FRESH AIR – Fresh air is so under-rated. Taking a few minutes to breath in the fresh air can make all the difference to the way we are feeling. Stand in your garden, at the back door or at an open window, take a couple of deep slow breaths and then notice your surroundings. Connect to that sense of you being in that space right now. 
  • MINDFULNESS – Mindfulness In Schools Project are offering daily drop in ‘Sit Together’ sessions to nourish, support and connect us with each other. Free and open to adults and children together or adults on their own. www.mindfulnessinschools.org

Human connection Practice physical, not social distancing. Every time I see the words social distancing I shudder. We have so many ways to stay connected and adhere to the essential, distancing rules. The connections we have with each other are vital – and we have so many ways to stay visually, verbally and socially connected. This is a great opportunity to reconnect with your children, old friends or even partners who you are not used to spending so much time with (!). Write them a letter (yes old school I know), that focuses on all the wonderful things you love about them. Include any special memories, good times, focus on them (not you). You can decide whether to give it to them or not, but notice how it makes you feel.

Create Balance 

Let’s face it, life, even before COVID-19, is full of ups and downs, good and bad. More than ever, we need to remain optimistic and realistic in equal measure. It’s no good pretending that life right now isn’t tough, but catastrophising about all the possible worst-case scenarios isn’t helpful either. 

  • Watch or read the news (from a trusted source) only once a day and for a limited period of time. It’s important to know what is happening but limit your intake to the ‘facts’. Then create the balance by spending the same amount of time focusing on what you can be grateful for. Big or small things that make you smile, warm your heart. 
  • When your mind starts to catastrophise the negative, worst case outcomes create the balance in your mind by thinking about the positive, best possible outcomes. This is not about ignoring the negative but helping to put your thinking into perspective. Thinking about the ‘best case’ can be hard, particularly when we are surrounded by a challenging reality, but creating a balance in your mind will mean you are better able to deal with the reality.  
  • Create a daily routine that includes the things that you enjoy doing, as well as the routine, work, school tasks. Perhaps, look back after the last week and write down the things you did, and then review the list for the coming week and include ways to be ‘kind to yourself’ and that help ‘harness your emotions’.

Model it’s ok not to feel ok   

We have an impact on each – thats just part of what human beings do. We compare ourselves to others and we mirror the behaviour we see (someone yawns we can find ourselves yawning too).

Our children are watching and modelling the behaviour of the adults around them. As parents, we can all relate to that moment when our child comes back at us with a phrase that sounds exactly like us! If they think we never get things wrong, make mistakes or fail at things, we are giving them a false sense of the world. Failure is a learning opportunity, a chance to try something different to push beyond where we are right now. Failure means we have to work harder, keep trying, but it shouldn’t mean giving up. The one thing worse than failure is the fear of failure. COVID-19 is an opportunity to talk about dealing with setbacks, understanding different reactions, listening to each other, not always knowing what is coming, but recognising that it won’t last forever, and that we can get through it and learn from it.  

Lucy is delivering Raise Resilience on-line to help parents help their children develop resilience while at home due to COVID-19.

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