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Your family’s emotional wellbeing and mental health (Published April, 9 2020)

Whether you are in a huge house with a big garden or a 2 bedroom flat with communal outdoor spaces, we are all feeling like the walls are closing in on us. As a society we are not used to the restrictions we need to live by at the moment and the risk of decreasing engagement and interaction with others, changes to routine and uncertainty, can affect our emotional wellbeing and mental health. It will affect the whole family, so it is important that you all work together to keep an eye on how everyone is coping.

You have the skills in dealing with change and resilience
It could be said that you have greater resilience to cope with change and uncertainty than other families who are experiencing upheaval in their lives for the first time. You will be more aware of hygiene, infection prevention and how to deal with home schooling. We have said this numerous times in the past weeks but many of you have already developed the skills, resilience and coping mechanisms which can be used and adapted in this strange situation. Call upon the strength that you built as a family to help each other through this.

Importance of talking
We have seen that talking and communicating openly is associated with better emotional wellbeing and mental health.

In our previous blog, we discussed talking to your child about their concerns and monitoring signs of anxiety. This is incredibly important as many older children with a liver condition, in particular, may be seeing stories on social media and listening to the news. They may not openly communicate that they are worried, so it is important to keep an eye on non-verbal cues.

The importance of talking and connecting during these unprecedented times was showcased with the relaunch of the ‘Britain Get Talking’ campaign. This campaign aims to improve the wellbeing of families and specifically young people. Young Minds have some great resources and guides for both young people and parents including tips and conversation starters and activities. You visit the campaign page for further information and resources here.

Other ways to help your family and children cope?

Some children thrive on predictability and routine, especially when the world around them is changing so much. It gives them a structure and certainty in an unknown situation. Scheduled tasks and activities may be an idea whilst ensuring it is flexible to their new lives, moods and emotions on the day. It is all about having a balance.
Here are some other tips which may be helpful:

  • Mindfulness and yoga may be a family activity that you can undertake. There is a useful video about mindful breathing on the Every Mind Matters website here. Cosmic Kids Yoga may be useful for young children.
  • There are some exercises and activities that may help to reduce anxiety such as:

HeartMath: Put your hand on your heart, focus your attention and take three deep breaths gently. This reduces stress hormones. Remember a time you felt good and feel the calm good feeling inside. Do this once an hour or anytime you feel overwhelmed. This is an approach to improving emotional wellbeing through changing your heart rhythm pattern to create physiological coherence.

Havening Technique: Rate your stress on scale of 10. Rub your arms up and down in cross motion. Imagine something nice while doing this and stroke your arms while counting from one to twenty. Keep stroking but move your eyes from left to right – don’t move your head. This action provides comfort and changes neurobiology by producing delta waves in movements of arms and eyes. The Havening technique is a psychosensory therapy using sensory input to alter thought and mood.

  • Manage how much time your family spend watching news and media coverage about the outbreak.
  • At the end of each day encourage the whole family to write down three positive things. This could be positive quotes, three good things about the day or three good things in their life. This encourages everyone to look at the good things in life when we are surrounded by the bad and worrisome.
  • Go outside in the garden or for a short walk if you can everyday whilst keeping to social distancing guidelines.
  • Keep active with daily exercises. We have discussed videos such as ‘PE with Joe’ but there are many videos now available online to support people to keep active at home. Many gyms are now providing online sessions and videos due to closures.

Are there any support organisations for emotional wellbeing and mental health?
Children’s Liver Disease are here to help throughout your journey and now is one of the most important times as you are not only dealing with your/your child’s liver condition but how to manage coronavirus and a complete change to family life on top of this. We are here to listen to your concerns, thoughts and emotions whether this be COVID-19 related or not.

You can contact us over the phone on 0121 212 6009 or by email at families@childliverdisease.org.

Young people aged 13 and over are able to join HIVE/HIVE+ to chat to other young people with a liver condition. It is a closed group managed by CLDF’s Young People’s Digital and Engagement Officer supported by ambassadors.

Young people aged 13 and over can also talk to Louise (Young People’s Digital Engagement Officer) via phone/text on 07928131955 or email youngpeople@childliverdisease.org.

There are other support organisations available specifically focused on emotional wellbeing and mental health such as:
Every Mind Matters
Young Minds
Samaritans

Helpful Links and Resources
Every Mind Matters – Staying at home tips 

Mind – Coronavirus and your wellbeing

Mental Health Foundation – coronavirus

Mental Health Foundation – Looking after your mental health during coronavirus outbreak

The World Health Organisation has provided a poster with key tips to help manage stress during COVID-19. It is available here.

This video by behavioural psychologist, Jo Hemmings, talks about how to cope with social isolation and anxiety. Click here to watch.

The Children’s Society has lots of advice to help young people to cope with the emotional impact and anxieties associated with coronavirus and also how they can support friends. Click here to view the resources.

Keep updated with Government guidance and advice about coronavirus:
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-information-for-the-public

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