For parents and carers looking after vulnerable children or young adults with a disability, these are challenging times. Amidst ongoing developments around the outbreak of COVID-19, it is inevitable that many of us will be feeling worried and unsure of what the future holds.
With the government currently advising all but essential social contact, you may be feeling anxious about not being able to access your usual support network, schools and clubs, or see family and friends.
It is understandably a worrying time for all. Looking after your own and your family’s physical health is obviously important, but so too is looking after your mental health. There’s lots of research to suggest that stress can have an impact on immunity.
Also, our young people will pick up on feelings of anxiety and fear.
At Kangaroos we are doing everything we can to put together alternative ways to interact with and support our young people and our Kangaroos’ families, including sharing information and ideas on how to keep well and temporarily adapt to spending more time at home.
We understand you may be finding the change in routine a challenge. Good mental well-being will help you to better cope with the COVID-19 threat and the uncertainty it’s creating.
Here are some small things you can do to limit stress.
1. Limit news intake
While it is vital you keep up to date with government guidance on COVID-19, excessively watching news programmes will take its toll. If the news is causing you and your family distress, limit your intake to once or twice a day – perhaps the morning and evening news bulletin. It’s best not to avoid all news as you need to keep informed.
2. Stick to official sources for advice
Of course you need to keep up to date with current government guidelines on COVID-19. Accessing reliable media sources is important. Full guidance is available from the NHS, the government, and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
3. Take breaks from social media
Social media is a wonderful tool for helping us to stay connected, particularly in the current climate. In many respects our social lives are temporarily moving completely online! However, it is important to take a break from social media too. Misinformation, rumour and speculation can spread quickly on social media and this will only feed anxiety and cause confusion.
Try to resist following the news for a couple of hours and engage in an activity with your family instead. Consider muting or unfollowing accounts or hashtags that make you feel uneasy.
4. Maintain as much of your normal routine as possible
We are living through unprecedented times. Our Kangaroos members may be finding it difficult to understand why their usual routine, including attending Kangaroos’ clubs and activities, has been disrupted. Whole families may be missing the routine too.
Try to maintain your family’s daily routine as much as possible: getting dressed, eating healthy meals, getting enough sleep and doing things at home that you enjoy.
5. Stay connected and keep positive
At times of stress we work better together and with support. Keep in touch with friends and family by email, telephone and social media. If you are sharing important content about the virus, use trusted sources and try not to sensationalise.
Try to maintain a sense of hope and positivity. Focus on the positive things in your life and hone in more on positive news stories of kindness and care in the community.
6. Stay healthy
Protecting ourselves from illness is now more vital than ever. Eating well, getting enough sleep and exercise are all important. While it is essential to adhere to guidelines on social distancing, you can still go out in the garden or do some gentle exercise indoors.
Avoid habits that can feed anxiety, such as excessive caffeine intake, smoking or drinking alcohol. Be even more vigilant with food choices for your children. A healthy diet will help support your children’s immune systems. Choose healthy fruits and vegetables and a good protein source where possible, rather than sugary or processed foods.
7. Reach out to the Kangaroos community
We’ve set up a closed Facebook group to enable our Kangaroos family to reach out to each other for support. If you have a problem or worry that is troubling you, the Kangaroos community is here to listen and help, so please get in touch.
When you are connecting with other members of the Kangaroos family on our Facebook page, share your experiences and ideas for keeping the children occupied at home. No matter how simple your activity ideas, it may be something that others haven’t thought of.
Above all remember, we are Kangaroos and we will always find ways to have fun, whatever the circumstances.
For more advice on maintaining mental well-being while staying at home, see NHS guidance here.