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How routine can help support your family’s mental health in uncertain times

Uncertainty is a fact of life, and yet, many of us have become pretty good at making a lot of things in our life as certain as possible.

We know the term dates for the school year, we know our working hours for the week, we know where our child’s netball game is on Saturday, and we’ve picked up the gift for the Ten Pin Bowling party on Sunday.

Enter COVID-19, and everything that seems ‘certain’ all of a sudden felt very uncertain. Schooling changed, sport stopped, birthday parties became a thing of distant memory, and a trip to the supermarket became a very different experience – nervously dancing around one another and barely making eye contact down the aisles.

These significant changes to our daily lives have been incredibly unnerving, for parents and children alike.

It’s during these times that as a human race, we often cling to and look for the things that we can make certain. A prime example was the panic buying phenomenon that swept the country earlier this year, when Australians sought to snap back control in one area they felt they could.

Human beings crave certainty, and most of us avoid uncertainty as much as possible. COVID-19 has completely turned this on its head, and many of us have had to find ways to deal with many uncertain circumstances across a number, if not all, parts of our lives.

Amidst this uncertainty, one important way to proactively look after our mental health – and our families – is by creating structure and routine where we can. This looks different for every family however, during a time when so much is out of our control, it’s important to put practices in place that you can control and will benefit you now, and in the future.

Below are some examples of healthy habits you can introduce into your routine that are beneficial during uncertain times.

3 healthy habits you can introduce into your routine

Meditation

Incorporating a meditation practice as part of your routine is a great way to help each familiar member be more mindful and encourage a sense of calm in the home. Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere and by anyone. A meditation routine instils mindfulness to help you navigate uncharted waters with calm.

Try setting aside a time of day you can dedicate to this — whether it’s before breakfast, after school or around meal times.

Exercise

Make it a priority to exercise, whether this is alone or with your family. You can do this indoors however, it’s great to get outdoors whenever possible. Getting fresh air and reconnecting with nature is crucial in fostering positive mental health, reducing stress and simply making us happier! Set up a routine that the entire family can do together, or tailor it to suit each family member.

You can also weave in meditation to your exercise routine by going for a walk outside and listening to a guided meditation.

Meal Times

Meal times are crucial for many families as it brings the family together and provides an opportunity to open up the conversation around how everyone is coping.

Make it a priority for yourself, and for your family, to create a routine around this by making meal times clear – especially breakfast and dinner to kick off and wrap up the day. This will help to give your days’ structure, and will also help family members plan their days and give them comfort knowing that at a certain time, you will all get together as a family over a meal. Try and make this time an important part of the day – turn off devices and TVs.

One exercise you might find useful to get conversation flowing is to take a moment for each person to reflect on what went well that day – paying attention to good things (even small good things) can build wellbeing – give it a try!

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Smiling Mind has recently launched a new Family Program, in collaboration with Medibank, to help families introduce a mindfulness routine both now and in the future.

To access all free content download the Smiling Mind app today (available on iOS and Android) and navigate to Family Program under All Programs.

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