Staying Calm During Times of Uncertainty: For Individuals and Families
Updated: Jan 26
Hello My Lovely’s,
I’ve created this guide to support you during this difficult period. We all endure periods through our lives of uncertainty and although this handbook has been created during this unprecedented times it is valuable at anytime.
A very brief intro to me. I’m Susi McWilliam, Author, Speaker, Anxiety Expert, Meditation and Mindfulness Coach, Advanced Reiki Healer, Essential Oil Enthusiast, Qualified Relax Kids Coach, Life and Spiritual Coach and Founder of the Be Free Coaching method for Anxiety, Stress and Depression. I own and run The Sanctuary a Wellbeing, Healing and Creative space in Belhelvie, North east Scotland. I personally had struggled with anxiety and panic attacks from the age of 15, suffered periods of depression and ill health for almost 2 decades. I now support others in these areas educating in support tools for mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health.
A little bit about uncertainty. As human beings we have core needs. Some define these 6 core needs as Certainty, Uncertainty, Significance, Love (connection), Growth and Contribution. So although this time is uncertain currently which is affecting us (many in a large way), we do actually need uncertainty in our lives to feel fulfilled. What happens though, is if the balance is off we then begin to suffer from mental, emotional and physical symptoms.
Rituals and Routines
Having some form of routine is key in times of uncertainty. So although the temptation may be to have a long lie, stay up late watching movies and treating this time like a bit of a holiday. This will only leave you feeling worse. If you have children, tired children don’t make for great learners or for happy children.
When I’m working with coaching clients this is an area that we work with a lot. How is your routine supporting you in living the life you desire? Or in this case how is your routine supporting you in feeling your best? Your schedule will have shifted and it’s time to create a new schedule. You may even have more time which is awesome you can even add things you’ve been putting off due to lack of time. meditation, yoga, reading, catching up with friends virtually, learning etc.
Activity: Create your new schedule. Include outdoor time, work, lunch, yoga, reading, movement, bedtime, waketime, food prep, whatever it is that you love. Include it all and create your most supportive routine. This structure allows you certainty thus throwing the balance more in your favour. Treat this time as an opportunity.
You can download my daily planning sheet for free here: https://81c6ca97-bb56-49cd-8d1f-27c733469f22.filesusr.com/ugd/55ad85_cced7468c0b44c63aa2a30f3994cd733.pdf
Structure and routine are essential to our little and not so little ones. It offers them the security that children crave. Boundaries, structure and routine help our children know what is happening and offers them a sense of safety. With my own children my middle child has Asperger’s and was diagnosed with ADHD as a child. Routine was paramount to him feeling safe and secure. And from learning this through his childhood it became apparent to me that this was not only applicable to children on the spectrum but to all children. Our children look to us to lead the way. Their current routines whether that be school, childminders, nursery, college or uni will have throw into disarray. But us creating routines it allows a sense of certainty.
Routines allow them to know what is expected of them, adds structure to their day, instills a sense of safety and security.
This is age dependant but I’d advise from Primary age upwards you involve your child in the creation of this routine. You could ask them what their day at school looks like, use advice from your school, draw, write a schedule with times so your child knows what is expected. Include free time, lunch, breaks, activities, educational time, screen time, family time, chores etc. Create it together so they feel part of it. If younger than primary age I’d advise you create a routine for yourself and your child. Include playtime, outdoor time, crafts, games, quiet time.
As a parent you may be working from home or you may have already been at home. You will undoubtedly have less childcare and quiet time. Allowing your children if they are old enough to have time on their own will benefit them. Creating boundaries around your time is important too. Mentally and emotionally. A frazzled parent is no fun to be around and we only end up feeling guilty for not giving our best to our kiddos so ensure that you carve out some space for you. The activity below can be completed by any family member.
Write a list of all the things you like to do alone or would like to do. Then complete another list with things you would like to do as a family.
So alone things for children may include lego, drawing, watching a movie, colouring etc and family things may be a game etc. Its really wonderful to find out more about your child in this way. You could even share your lists and chat through them with each other.
Meditation and Mindset
With so much negativity and fear surrounding us it can be a challenge to remain in a positive place even for the most happy go lucky of types. Regardless of you feel this situation is affecting you it will be. On a subconscious level you will be picking up on the energy of others around you. Our brain is wired for negativity as a way to protect us and I have no doubt the little alarm belles in your brain are ringing strongly just now. Did you know we need on average 5 positive things to one negative to balance this negativity bias? That means right now we need to ramp up the positivity as much as possible. Kind words to friends and family, oh yes and kind words for yourself also!
What way can you boost your mindset? I’d suggest restricting social media and news and maybe suggesting setting a time for check ins. So you are in control of what information you are absorbing. Look for the good in the situation, look for the people who are helping, supporting and sharing their strength. Don’t get sucked into the negativity. Consume news from genuine sources. Be aware of the news but also how this may be affecting you.
If you have children you may consider explaining to them what is happening in an age appropriate way. Hiding information will only lead to more anxiety and a sense something isn’t right. Here’s a supportive article that may help: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/parenting/a31225604/explaining-coronavirus-to-children-parents/ .
Meditation and relaxation are great tools during this time allowing your body to shift from fight and flight to rest and digest zone. Giving it the time it needs to slow and find calm. I love the Insight Timer app, but you can find videos via Youtube and other sites which may help. You can find downloads on my website and meditations and breathing exercises over on my youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8XqUswNFGaMrNaGaSwTl7w? . For children Cosmic Kids may be good or you can visit Relax Kids where you can download a free calm pack for children: http://www.relaxkids.com/
You could try an online meditation course such as my 5 Weeks to Calm https://www.spiritandsoul.me/product-page/5-weeks-to-calm-online-meditation-course .
Be aware of what you are watching, try to watch something funny, uplifting that will lower your stress hormones and give you that feel good vibes. You could even write a list of funny films or TV shows to work through. When I asked my community Friends featured highly on this list!
Activity: Write a list of positive books, movies, facebook and Instagram pages, podcasts and friend you can reach for to keep you vibing high during this time.
Gratitude is a fabulous way to keep your mind focussed in the present moment and joy. Its an activity I’m hugely passionate about with lots of benefits to raise your mood. Don’t know where to start? This activity is suitable for all ages.
Activity: Create your own gratitude jar. Fill a jar with positivity. See my free link with printable labels. This activity is suitable for all ages. At the end of the day, you write something your grateful for on a piece of paper and add it to the jar. You can also do this in a journal. A great way to end the day and reflect on the good. https://www.spiritandsoul.me/product-page/how-to-make-a-gratitude-jar . You can also try my Free Gratitude and Love Meditation on Insight Timer: https://insig.ht/o3bqK2q8k5
Affirmations are a wonderful mindset tool for all ages. Affirmations are positive statements we say about ourselves to help us feel more confident, strong and happy. Repetition is key. Lets fill ourselves with positivity. I am loving this song on facebook just now its so so catchy, uses affirmations and is great for the kiddos and adults alike https://www.facebook.com/allisondavies.com.au/videos/236195374203519/ . Here’s some links to affirmations for children and for health. Affirmations for children: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/spiritandsoulab/affirmations-for-children/ Affirmations for Adult Health: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/spiritandsoulab/affirmations-for-health/ .
Individuals and Family’s
Ensuring you get good quality sleep will support you so much during uncertain times and beyond. Good quality sleep is something I’m really passionate about and here’s why; Sleep is not a luxury it’s a necessity! Good quality sleep allows our body to heal, improves mood, reduces stress, anxiety and depression, helps control moods and emotions, improves our immunity, reduces inflammation and reduces cravings! Our children are no different except they are also growing and developing at a faster rate so need this time to process and grow.
Activity: Create a loving, nourishing bedtime routine for yourself. Wind down, avoid things such as the news and social media prior to bed. Use this time to allow your body to relax. Take a bath, read or listen to something calming and soothing. Switch off technology and take time to slow down and breathe.
Parents/Carers: Sticking with bedtime routines allows you free time as a parent it also prevents you having to re-establish these routines when this period ends. Creating stability and safety for your kiddos will benefit them tremendously. They will be happier, have increased immunity and less mood swings. You might like to create a really lovely long bedtime routine if you have more time. Spending time reflecting on the day, reading a story, doing a meditation together. Enjoying more time to cuddle.
Struggling to know how much sleep you or your littles should be getting. I’ve popped in this sleep table from my book Be Free: A Holistic Guide to Freedom from Anxiety, Stress and Low Mood for Life. It’s adapted from the National Sleep Foundation.
Struggling to sleep at this time? Essential oils offer natural solutions to support sleep. My go to oils for supporting sleep for everyone would be Lavender and Cedarwood.
I’d advise using therapeutic grade essential oil to ensure the safety you are using in your home. To purchase essential oils you can use the following link: https://www.mydoterra.com/spiritandsoul/#/ this will allow them to be shipped directly to your door. There’s even an opportunity to purchase at wholesale prices. If you’d like further information on any of this please do reach out and ask. Here’s a link to a free ebook about essential oils and sleep: https://media.doterra.com/us/en/ebooks/essential-oils-and-sleep.pdf
You may be a gym bunny missing your workouts or exercise isn’t even on your priority list. During this time its time to start. Starting if your new to exercise could just be taking advantage of the once a day opportunity to get outside for a small walk or some gentle stretches in your chair. Equally if you are accustomed to a higher level of exercise then coming up with some creative ways to still get your exercise in will be super important at this time. I would urge everyone to get outside and utilise their daily exercise allowance. If you are physically able then please do use it safely and by following your governments guidelines. Can’t get out or are looking for more. Take advantage of all the incredible free workouts coaches are offering, tap into Youtube. Dig out those weights or gym equipment you may have purchased over the years. If you have kids join in some fun games in your garden, or create a small workout space to do starjumps, hop, stretch and move together. I’ve popped some links below to support you with this.
Moving our body will keep our immunity high, allow better sleep and keep our body functioning in a healthy way.
Activity: Move your body every day.
Play and Fun for All Ages
Being stuck at home doesn’t have to be boring! What games can you play? Pull out old board games, what do you like to do for fun? Grab a jigsaw, bake a cake, take up crochet. This is your chance to really have some fun. You can use it as a way to connect with family, why not play an online game with friends or challenge yourself to a new hobby. For those of you with teenagers at home this is chance to get them off of devices and have a laugh as a family. Get silly, play charades have a dancing challenge. Being at home doesn’t need to mean being serious.
Oh yeah, these still need done. And the chance is because you’re at home there may be more dishes etc to do. Whether you’re on your own or a family. Creating a time to do chores will help. Maybe set a timer and see how much you can get done in 15 minutes, set yourself some challenges. If you have a family or there is more than one of you dividing tasks is essential. No one person should be responsible for everything. Even super young kiddos can begin to learn to be part of a family, take responsibility and contribute. Team work, makes the dream work! I love this schedule as it breaks things up a bit but you can create your own and find out what works for you. Keeping on top of things will hep you feel in more control and working as a family will allow everyone to feel supported and valued.
You may love time on your own or struggle but ether way its essential during this time to spend some time just for you. Use this time to do things just for you. Use up that Christmas spa products you got and give your self a treatment, study that online course you bought, nap, meditate, journal, tidy, declutter, listen to music. Use time to switch of from the news. Do activities that fill you up and reduce stress. Time alone will be good for your soul and allow you to de-stress.
Journaling is a really powerful and simple way to process our emotions. Suitable for children and adults. Journaling has so many benefits. Here’s a great article from positive psychology with 83 benefits of journaling for Anxiety, Stress and Depression . https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/
It’s a great way to process what is going on in your life and get things out of your head and on to paper. It’s even been shown to boost immunity so it’s an ideal activity to start!
Activity: This is suitable for all ages and is a great one to discuss. You can
adapt for younger children and chat through emotions. I want you to take a moment to reflect on the current situation and your circumstances. How are you feeling physically, mentally and emotionally? What have you learned? What are you struggling with? What positives have you discovered during this time? How do you want life to look after this unusual period? What would you like to remain and what would you like to leave behind? Take some time out. There so much we can learn from this imposed period of stopping.
If you find this is something you have enjoyed you can head over to my Pinterest page and you will find numerous journal prompts there to get you started. https://www.pinterest.co.uk/spiritandsoulab/journaling/
Food and Nutrition
It can be challenging organising healthy options when supplies are limited. But utilising frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables are great options if fresh produce is limited. When we are stressed we can often find ourselves reaching for the sugary options, caffeine or alcohol. These will only exacerbate your stress levels and stress on your body. So use this time to get creative in your kitchen. Sort through your cupboards and try some new recipes out. Here’s some fab vegan options with meat being in short supply. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/vegan. We’re enjoying making our own rice pudding, jam, granola, cakes and bakes. We loved this Joe Wicks recipe too it went down a treat in our house https://www.facebook.com/JoeWicksTheBodyCoach/videos/435540263517602/?v=435540263517602 . There’s lots of great recipes on pinterest to try too.
Menu planning at this time is a great idea so you can plan your shopping. Here’s a link to my free menu planner: https://81c6ca97-bb56-49cd-8d1f-27c733469f22.filesusr.com/ugd/55ad85_7adc5e9101c8421eb64e2a65ba21db08.pdf
Using our breathe is a quick and easy way to support ourselves at times of stress or overwhelm. Taking long slow deep breaths can really help. You can find a number of supportive breathing techniques on my youtube channel breathing techniques playlist. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL5B6AsS3GhUYaWTAkjci59i74ucCrSIbK
For children you can ask them to pretend to smell a flower, then blow out a candle. The key is to create a longer outbreath than in breath. Allowing the body to slow, calm and regulate.
I hope that you have found this helpful and supportive please feel free to reach out for any support and further information you may need. Also please share so others can benefit too.
Helpful Links, Apps, Downloads and Freebies:
Mental Health/ Meditation and Mindset:
My book (gold award winner 2019 of the meditation and mindset category, Janey Loves Platinum Awards) covers many of the elements mentioned above and more you can purchase it here: https://www.spiritandsoul.me/product-page/be-free-personalised-signed-copy or via Amazon, waterstones and any good book sellers.
Mind Mental Health Charity: https://www.mind.org.uk/
Great online magazine: https://www.mindful.org/magazine/
Free Meditation App: Insight Timer is my favourite meditation and mindfulness app. With meditations for children and adults. Download it for free. We use this at bedtime in our home. You can search my name Susi McWilliam and you will find meditations from me too.
Tools for Children: http://www.relaxkids.com/
Podcasts such as: The Calmer You Podcast with Chloe Brotheridge, Feel Better Live More with Dr Chattergee, Happy Place with Fearne Cotton, or any you like that are positive or uplifting.
There are lots of free workouts currently online within your local area via facebook etc so try and support your local teachers and coaches too!
Joe Wicks on You Tube has routines suitable for adults and children: https://www.youtube.com/user/thebodycoach1
Yoga with Adriene on You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene
NHS Guidelines, couch to 5K support and lots of other valuable information: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/
Cosmic Kids Yoga and Mindfulness: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5uIZ2KOZZeQDQo_Gsi_qbQ
Fabulous natural health website: https://draxe.com/
Well-being Website: https://www.mindbodygreen.com/
Visit my website for some videos and links: https://www.spiritandsoul.me/essentialoilsandnutrition
Learn about Essential Oils: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=23-qOvTk0MU&t=20s
Learn about Essential Oils and Children: https://media.doterra.com/us/en/ebooks/essential-oils-and-children.pdf
Learn About Essential Oils and Emotions:
Youtube class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssUY7YSysbU&t=1035s
Purchase Oils and gain my exclusive support: https://www.mydoterra.com/spiritandsoul/#/