Stress Relief Tips for Children and the Elderly

By Dr. Liqun Hu, Clinical Psychologist at GHC
Covid-19 has profoundly affected everyone, increasing our stress levels and adversely affecting the health of individuals, families and the wider community.

The pandemic has seen a sudden and shocking change to our everyday lives; frequent nucleic acid testing, isolation, home-based working, online learning and a range of other inconveniences are challenging and stressful for adults and children.



We are not alone in the confusion, anger and fear we are feeling toward the virus and related public health measures. Children find it difficult to understand the epidemic and not being able to go to school, spend time with friends, or play outside.

Children and adolescent’s cognitive ability and emotional immaturity means they may experience and exhibit stress in a number of ways;


  • Confusion
  • Boredom
  • Agitation
  • Changes in Eating behaviours – refusing to eat, overeating, sudden loss of appetite
  • Sleep issues – refusing to go to sleep on time, not wanting to sleep alone, difficulty in falling asleep and nightmares
  • Fear – being too clingy to parents, not wanting parents to leave their sight, worrying about their safety
  • Irritability
  • Regressive behaviours – pants wetting/bed wetting, babbling, biting fingers, following adults too closely
Here are some ways parents can help children adapt to changes in their daily life in a way the children can understand and allows children to express their emotions.

Regular routine is important


  • Let children participate in the formulation of their daily routines including organizing their online learning activities and chores.
  • Keeping to the child’s usual meal and sleep times.
  • Daily family play time, games and reading.
  • Plan online play dates and phone calls with friends and family as often as possible.


  • Encourage children and adolescents to express their feelings and emotions. This can be achieved through language, painting, writing, singing, nursery rhymes, stories and dance.
  • Help children find appropriate labels for the way they are feeling: sad, happy, angry, fearful/scared, lonely, confused.



  • Be aware of changes in children’s behavior and emotional state.
  • Try to understand and respect the child’s feelings.
  • Talk to one another about how you’re feeling so they understand they’re not alone in the way they are feeling and that you want to help them.




  • Let children know you’re there for them whether you’re together or apart.
  • Being at home together doesn’t necessarily mean you’re ‘together’. Make a point to spend time together each day; talking, reading, playing, cooking, eating meals, crafting or doing chores.


It is also vitally important to provide social contact, companionship and emotional support to the elderly during this time. They may be limited in capacity, suffering from underlying diseases or physically and emotionally vulnerable.


  • Encourage the elderly to express their needs and concerns.
  • Discuss and help them to make plans for different situations that may arise.
  • Where possible, assist them in meeting their basic needs such as food, exercise and hygiene.
  • Keep in touch with them and help/encourage them to keep in touch with their friends and family through WeChat, phone and video calls.

Along with added stress of working from home, children’s home-learning, the day to day inconveniences caused by the whole family staying at home together for an extended period can also put a lot of stress on you. It is important to be mindful of this and always take a moment for yourself and reach out to family, friends and counselors if you are feeling overwhelmed.


About Dr. Liqun Hu

Clinical Psychologist, GHC

  • Doctoral degree in clinical psychology from California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angles, U.S.
  • Master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage, family, and child counseling, from Pepperdine University, Los Angels, U.S.
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist (PSY18817, California)
  • Has been in mental health field since 1994
  • Master’s degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on marriage, family, and child counseling, from Pepperdine University, Los Angels, U.S.
  • Worked in different settings (e.g., hospital impatient service and outpatient service, government-operated service, international hospital, school-based service, community-based service)
  • Worked with adults, adolescents, and children; individual, couple, and family
  • Provided assessment, testing, counseling, and consultation