Anxiety About COVID: How Parents and Caregivers Can Cope

Coping With The Effects of Uncertainty

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As a mental health therapist at Breathe., a major theme I (Haleigh) have been hearing about in sessions lately is an increase in anxious thoughts and feelings stemming from the lack of control people are experiencing through COVID.  

I am telling you- if you’re feeling anxious, inadequate, or out of sorts as a parent right now, you are not alone. 

Since about Mid-March, many of us have adopted a whole new way of living, which as parents, comes with a whole new set of fears to manage. 

  • Will I/my family get sick? 
  • Should we just stay home? 
  • What about social stimulation? 
  • Will my kids go to school? 
  • Should my kids go to school?

Any of these sound familiar? The list could go on and on. These spiraling thoughts have put many of us in a space of fight-or-flight (or at least close to it) for the last six months. The biological purpose of fight-or flight is reserved for brief, life-threatening situations. 

If you’re experiencing a Flight-or-Fight or a heightened anxiety response, it might look like this:

  • Heart rate & blood pressure increase
  • Shallow, quick breaths 
  • Pale/flushed skin
  • On edge or irritability
  • Intrusive thoughts 
  • Impaired memory 
  • Muscle tension/trembling

No wonder you’re exhausted and on edge! 

This is my friendly reminder to take time and tell yourself – you’re doing the best you can & give yourself a little grace. None of us have been through a global pandemic before, but we have used grounding tools in the past & those can still be helpful to us. Slow down, take deep breaths, and remind yourself of that the next time you notice those thoughts or physical symptoms creeping in. 

Strategies

  • Take care of yourself: No, this is not the dreaded self-care pitch. I’m talking basic needs- focus on getting enough sleeping, drinking enough water and moving your body (chasing after your kiddos totally counts!) 
  • Take breaks from the news/watching tv: Step away from the news, social media, etc. if you find yourself feeling overwhelmed. Maybe you consider setting limits surrounding when and how often you are consuming media? In processing and reflecting in sessions, many of my clients have come to the conclusion that it’s not helpful for them to check social media or watch the news before bed. Hello, to intrusive thoughts disrupting sleep!  They’ve decided to reserve time before they make dinner, or go for a walk, as time for media to allow time for themselves to process. It allows for a physical movement and specific objective to quiet your mind. 
  • Connect with others and build a support team: Reach out to your supports and take time out of your day to talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling

These worries and intrusive thoughts are normal, but you don’t have to live with them. Breathe. can help you process both the mental and physical symptoms of coping through a pandemic. You’re not alone in these experiences, but each situation is unique. My purpose is to utilize my training and expertise to provide you with a space to process & explore strategies to cope during this difficult time. Call 515-255-3932 or schedule online to get the support you deserve.