Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Anxiety and Kids: On Finding Rest

I'm going to try doing a little series on families and anxiety.  In no particular order, I will attempt to bring together some of what we have found helpful as we seek a peaceful family life and freedom from the tyranny and fatigue of anxiety.  Has anxiety cropped up in your home life?  Do you know the weariness of worry?  There is rest and peace to be had.  I promise because we are finding it.

-Kids shouldn't be too stressed out.  If life is super stressful, kids quirks will be exacerbated.   Quirks like shyness, phobias, sensitivities, and worries.  Stress, rather than making us more ourselves, makes us rely more heavily on our coping mechanisms because we feel desperate! Serious anxiety in the family is a spur to examine our life and sort out what's important, culling some activities and commitments when necessary.  We seem to regularly accumulate more than we can handle, so a periodic re-evaluation of our time commitments thrusts itself on us when we find ourselves chronically swamped.

-We seek a balanced life for everyone in the family.  Grown-ups and kids all need plenty of sleep and nice doses of work and rest and play.  Taking duty and pleasure by turns helps us find an even keel.  We also each need lots of time with good friends who love us.

 -We have found having a day of rest essential to family happiness and peace of mind and body!  A real day, not just a couple hours or part of an afternoon.  And real rest.  By "rest" I don't mean lazing about in pajamas all day in front of the tv, because that just isn't restful at all to us.  Rest is letting our spirits breathe the breath of God.

-We guard our family day of rest as a time truly set apart.  We don't schedule appointments or duties on this day, or do unnecessary work.  I have found it more restful to do the dishes and clean up after ourselves than to leave it all till the next day!  But we try to plan ahead to minimize the unavoidable work on this day, by cooking ahead simple food and even setting out breakfast the night before sometimes helps to start this special day well.

-We seek activities for our day of rest that are life-giving for everyone.  Finding ways we as parents could rest without boring the kids to death or overwhelming them, or that they could rest without wearing us out or jangling our nerves worse than workdays was something that took us a while and is part of healing as a family from anxiety.

-Make little islands of sanctuary in the regular everydays.  A little quiet, times to talk together, spaces to think and play.


-During the unavoidable seasons of intensity, we hold it together, and keep up what regularity we can as we ride it out.  Sometimes real rest, for one reason and another, is just unattainable.  These are the times to just keep getting a meal on the table one way or another, falling back on traditions, and clinging to the cross while we wait for the storm to subside. They are not times to give up on everything.  Nor are they are also not times to insist everything be perfect.

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