The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted unprecedented changes to our day-to-day lives. From postponing vacations and graduations to masking and social distancing, families have been asked to do a lot to help keep everyone safe. While the precautions we’re taking are helpful in reducing the spread of the virus, they also bring new challenges that can cause everyone stress and anxiety, even children.
To help lighten the mental strain COVID-19 can cause, Akron Children’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr. Charlie Brown, sheds some light on how the simple act of giving can help us all feel a little bit better.
“Stress and anxiety can affect us all differently. It’s the way we cope with stress and anxiety that dictates its impact on us,” said Dr. Brown. “One healthy way of coping is through service because it allows us to step outside of our own challenging experience and enrich the experience of others.”
In fact, scientists believe that selfless, giving behavior releases endorphins in the brain, producing the positive feeling known as the “helper’s high.” Giving of one’s time, money or service can offer many health benefits to the giver in return, including greater self-esteem, less depression and lower levels of stress that lasts long after the initial act of giving.
Need some ideas? Here are several ways you and your family can give back and feel better for it in the process:
- Donate to a food bank
- Foster or adopt a pet
- Draw pictures or send cards to a nursing home
- Shop locally to support the local economy
- Give higher tips at restaurants and salons (if you can afford it)
- Check-in on friends, neighbors or relatives who live alone
- Teach parents or grandparents how to video chat or use social media to stay connected with family and friends
- Be a good example for others by masking and social distancing in public
- Offer words of encouragement to someone who seems to be having a hard time
“These have been uncertain and difficult times for everybody, but kids are really being impacted so it’s very important to check-in with them regularly to talk about how they’re feeling and how they’re coping with stress,” said Dr. Brown. “In doing so, it gives kids an outlet to talk about their experiences while also creating an opportunity for parents to offer up healthy ways to cope such as giving back and service to others.”
Know the signs of mental health struggles, but understand that signs aren’t the same for everyone. Talk with your pediatrician if you notice a pattern of new/different behavior or if you have general concerns about your child’s well-being.
If your family is interested in supporting Akron Children’s, please click here for ways you can help.