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How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Current as of June 16, 2021

You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your military life. And 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 2019 coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Localities may have lifted some restrictions, but quarantines could be reinstated to stop the spread of the virus and its variants. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place and adjusting to changing health guidelines.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

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 children 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 tension building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you spend watching or reading 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 COVID-19 and provide age-appropriate, reliable information. Help clear up any misunderstandings they may have and stay focused on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed 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 COVID-19.

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, dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include your children, 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 a game of H-O-R-S-E. 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 children can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time – something you all do from separate rooms to give everyone space to relax. Use your MWR Digital Library for video books that read to children or e-books for older youth and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with your children by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and washing and drying 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 may talk more when doing tasks beside you than 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.

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

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