6 Tips on How To Avoid COVID-19 Anxiety as a Parent
With news of COVID-19 being thrown at us from every angle, it is common that most of us are experiencing anxiety or stress due to the constant stimulation. As the world practices social distancing, we are now more connected online, than ever. The goal is to boost our immunity while staying safe and isolating at home, but lets face it something as big as a global pandemic is bound to trigger stress. In turn, stress lowers immunity, and when you add in lost sleep, that toll rises higher. This directly affects good decision-making and when you're a parent, decision-making is pretty much a daily job requirement.
Here are some small tips to incorporate in your ‘new’ routine to create balance, and manage your COVID-19 anxiety.
1. Choose when you'll check in.
There's a time and a place for everything, including when to consume COVID-19 news. It is best that the time you choose to catch up on all current events is not right before bed, because losing sleep will only amp up anxiety. It’s also best not to get distracted by COVID-19 news when the kids need your attention, getting interrupted while reading something stressful can easily cause an overreaction—and cause you to pass your upset on to your kid. Designating a time to read the news will make it easier to refrain from obsessing over your phone all day “just in case” there's news.
2. Give yourself time to process
In addition to time to check in on current news, you also need time and space to digest what you've learned. So, try reading the news just before you do an activity, such as cooking dinner, going on a walk, or loving on your pet. Physical movement and specific objective will help quiet your mind.
3. Schedule your worry time.
Give yourself permission to worry during a specific and finite period of time a day. Write down or share out loud with someone you trust, everything you're anxious about. Writing and sharing helps get all that stress and anxiety out of your head and onto the page, so that you don't have to keep re-hashing it in your mind.
4. Stay connected.
Reach out to your circle when you need comfort. Self isolating can get lonely especially for those who are used to a lifestyle of seeing friends and family on a regular basis. Schedule check-ins via Facetime, Zoom or House party - seeing your loved ones faces will make you feel more at ease that we are all in this together. Make sure to check in on your friends and family even if you are feeling a-okay in isolation, someone may need your comfort.
5. Be honest with your kids without telling too much.
Kids can sense fear. If they ask questions or share that they're scared and you tell them not to worry, it's likely to backfire. Tell them the truth, which is that you don't know exactly what's going to happen, and even that you at times worry about it, but that you and their other care providers are doing all you can to keep them safe. And don't forget the magic words: that this is all temporary and as long as we do our part to stay home and stay safe things will go back to normal.
6. Don’t forget self-care.
Tough times are when you need the steadiness of self-care the most—now is not the time to toss your self-care methods out the window. If you need additional incentive to do the things that help you feel calmer, remember that kids watch you to learn how they should respond to crises. Let them see you doing a couple of yoga poses, journaling or going for a walk to clear your head. Tell them why you're doing it - “this helps me feel better” and maybe even have them join you. By taking care of yourself you'll spread calmness instead of anxiety.