Military family sitting and laughing together at home

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Current as of March 26, 2020


You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your life from being a member of the military community. That “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the coronavirus quarantine. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your kids are watching how you handle the quarantine and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel stress building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you watch or read the news. Start with 10 minutes a day, and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about coronavirus and provide age-appropriate, reliable information to clear up any misunderstandings they may have. Help them focus on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed specifically for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates or dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include the kids, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like the game of H-O-R-S-E in basketball. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward, or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your kids can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time. Something you all do from separate rooms to give you space to relax. Use your Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for video books that read to kids, or eBooks for older kids and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with kids by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They tend to talk more when doing tasks beside you versus talking face to face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. Select legitimate sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.