MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – As we try to get through this strict one-month dial back together, it’s important to find those things that make you smile.

“The pandemic is impacting everybody’s mental health. Most people are really struggling,” said Sue Abderholden, the executive director of NAMI Minnesota. She says it’s important both adults and kids focus on mental health right now.

Abderholden says parents should help their kids schedule calls with friends, keep them on some kind of a schedule, which provides a sense of normalcy, and also be honest with your kids.

She suggests if your kids are age appropriate, talk to them about what’s happening and don’t pretend like you’re not stressed when they see it.

Abderholden also says it’s important to get kids outside when possible and limit screen time.

“People aren’t racing off to practices or band or whatever it might be, so use that family time to actually connect and put the phones away,” said Abderholden.

Maggie Winter turns her Excelsior home into a restaurant every Tuesday, hosting a “Taco Night” for her family of four to make them feel like they’re going out to eat.

“I set up a taco shop in our basement,” said Winter, “It’s definitely not easy, but we kind of like make the best of it.”

Winter also keeps her 4 year old daughter engaged during this dial back by doing a lot of at-home science projects.

“We do this thing called ‘unicorn magic’ and it’s just baking soda with vinegar and food coloring, but it takes hours of time,” said Winter.

For adults looking for coping mechanisms, Abderholden recommends doing breathing exercises, avoiding stress eating and alcohol abuse. She also suggests setting up Zoom calls with friends and virtual game nights, and simply dancing around your home.

“If you put on really happy songs that make you dance, you smile, and smile and moving all at the same time can actually release those endorphins in your brain,” said Abderholden.

What makes Katherine Meredith smile is decorating her Cokato home early for Christmas.

“This year I just told the kids – ‘y’all mama’s got her Hallmark shirt on…it’s happening!” said Meredith.

She also took up a new hobby, learning how to sew and make masks for the health care workers in her area.

If you need someone to talk to help is available 24 hours a day. You can call 651-288-0400 or text “MN” to 741-741.

NAMI Minnesota also has virtual classes and resources for people needing more mental wellbeing tips and help. Click here to learn more.

Marielle Mohs

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