Managing Stress During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Author: Elizabeth Marotta

Parenting is stressful even in the best of situations, but the unprecedented events surrounding the COVID-19 global crisis is adding a new level of anxiety for parents. Whether you’re balancing working from home while homeschooling kids, dealing with anxiety about finances, or simply feeling isolated in this new era of social distancing, experiencing stress is normal. You are not alone.

Taking care of yourself, slowing down, and finding balance while parenting sometimes feels impossible, especially while managing anxiety. This is new to all of us and there is no perfect plan or “right way” that works for everyone, but to try to help you manage the stress, we’ve put together five practices that can be very helpful. So, relax for a moment, take a read, and consider if putting any of these practices into action might help at home.

Give yourself a break.

Parenting is a tough job and this unexpected detour from our normal routines doesn’t come with a detailed how-to guide. You are doing your best, so try not to be too hard on yourself! You’re learning as you go, and things may not always be just the way you’d expect or what it might look like for someone else. Know that this is okay.

Celebrate the wins, big and small. Whether it’s managing to get your kids to read a book instead of playing a video game or making it to the end of the day with your family well-being okay, the truth is you faced the challenges of the day. That in and of itself is a win. Congratulations!

Ask for help.

Sometimes asking for help is one of the hardest things to do and with social distancing requirements, can be even harder. Luckily, many of the supports you might find useful are moving online. We've curated a list of useful articles and virtual resources to help parents during this time, whether its an online support group or a virtual field trip to keep your kids engaged while you are on a conference call or hiding with a bag of chips.

Try to slow down.

Be in the moment. How many times are you going to have so much unscheduled time at home with your children? Cuddle on the couch, watch a movie together, bake cookies, or read a book aloud. Not every moment has to be perfect, but you might just find one moment of near perfection.

We are by no means experts in the field of mindful practices, but here are some helpful tips drawn from mindfulness.com: Stop, wherever you are and take several deep breaths, focus on yourself and your surroundings. The goal is to pay attention to the present moment, the here and now, but without judgement. There is no pressure to quiet the mind or to stop thinking about what needs to be done, rather to pay attention to what is going on in your body and around you. Release yourself from judging and listen to your breathing to help reduce obsessing over the content of your thoughts.

Schedule time to be alone.

Ideally, set aside 15 or 20 minutes a day to do something you enjoy by yourself. Anything! The demands of playing multiple roles in your life as a parent, a partner, a son or daughter helping aging parents, and working from home are real. It may be impossible to take time for yourself every day, but it can be invaluable to keeping your own sanity.

And finally, be kind to yourself, parenting is one tough job – especially right now.

We wish you safety and health.

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