Parents all over the world are dealing with great hardship and fear about how they will be able to care for their family during the coronavirus pandemic.

To help reduce those feelings of fear, anxiety, stress, loss and frustration over the coming weeks and months. families should do two things. The first, is to get professional help when needed and, second, maintain daily self-care activities.

Self-care exercises can help your family enhance their daily well being and build character during this difficult time. Below are some tips.

1. Start small. Be sure to take time to do the little things in life that make you happy. Sometimes, it’s just the small things that make all the difference.

2. Express your feelings. Reach out to someone you trust and honestly express your concerns. Keeping your feelings bottled up is never good. Be sure to share your feeling calmly and appropriately to others.

3. Look for ways to be happy. Try to focus on happy thoughts at least three times a day. Use affirmation statements to encourage you to follow though on healthy behavior.

4. Find time to recover. Be sure to get enough rest each night. It’s also good to take a brief nap or mediate during the day for a few minutes when feeling tired or down.

5. Connect with others. Make an effort to reach out to other people in need. You may just find that you get more out of it than the person you are helping.

6. Accept challenges. Model to your children how to accept a challenge with determination and faith that you can achieve a positive overcome. When you can do this without resentment or blame, you teach your children by example how to build character.

7. Remove negative influences. If you find yourself surround by negative thinking, conversations, people, things or places, try to remove or distance yourself physically, socially, emotionally or spiritually.

8. Encouragement. When you use at least four to eight encouraging statement to others, you will find they want to spend more time with you and that your positivity will become infectious.

Keep in mind that self care during stressful times isn’t an option. It is a must. It’s better to have a self-care regiment as part of your daily activity, but if you don't have one in place, it’s never too late to start. Having the entire family involved may help you stick to your goals and have others you can depend on as self-care support.

Good luck with maintaining your wellness family plan. It may not be easy, but it will be beneficial.

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Bridget Barnes has more than 30 years of experience as a Health and Human Services professional. Bridget joined Boys Town's Family Services Research and Development department to assist with creating what is now the evidence-based Common Sense Parenting program.

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