Managing Stress and Anxiety During the Coronavirus Age


A lot has changed quickly in the last few weeks as coronavirus (or COVID-19) has gained ground in the US. I know I’m not alone as my anxiety rises as we wait to see what is next. So while we adjust to our new “normal” and wait to see what happens in the next few weeks, how do we take care of ourselves? How do we de-stress and stay calm in the age of coronavirus? Managing stress and anxiety with coronavirus at play can be tricky, and here are a few ways I’m choosing to cope.

Start with the Basics of Self Care

Sometimes in times of crisis, transition, and in the midst of taking care of others (i.e. these kids we are home with), we forget our basic needs. In parenting a toddler, you start with thinking about if they are tired, hungry, thirsty, overstimulated or need physical activity. We as parents have the same needs and can often overlook them. 

When I’m getting short with my toddler, I often start asking myself if I’m actually hungry. Do I need to stop and eat something? Am I overtired? Is it too crazy loud inside and we all need to step outside for a minute? Do I need to make an effort to get to bed sooner tonight and just let some chores slide? 

Try to find small ways you can get physical activity. Maybe stretch while sitting on the floor playing. Try doing 5 lunges. Go for a walk. Step out of your house and back in; just a minute of breathing in the fresh air can help.

Create a Morning Routine

Another way we are similar to toddlers is we also do well with routine. Obviously, most of our routines have been turned on their heads and we need to find a new one. As we map this out, don’t forget to include something, no matter how small, that provides you with a bit of self-care and reduces anxiety. 

Is there a song or playlist mix that you could start your day with? Can you find a way to sit in silence for five minutes? Perhaps you can journal. (For example, each day I like to write down ways I contribute, things I’m thankful for, and affirmations.) 

As you figure out your new normal, a lot of the focus might be on the kids. Also, consider the benefit of scheduling in something every morning for yourself. Emily P. Freeman has an excellent podcast episode on creating something to focus on every morning. 

Try Meditation to Reduce Anxiety

I know, easier said than done, especially while possibly navigating teleworking with watching your kids. But think small. You don’t have to incorporate 20 minutes of meditation into your day. How about just 5 minutes? There are guided meditations, or you could simply sit in silence for 5 minutes. 

When trying out meditation for the first time, set the expectations low. It’s okay for your mind to wander. And it’s okay if you fall asleep. Meditation is not something most people pick up right away and are able to completely silence their minds. You can still benefit. Forbes and the Mayo Clinic are great resources that explain the benefits of meditation. Also consider checking out the UC San Diego Center on Mindfulness, which provides many free guided meditations that range from 5 to 45 minutes. 

Connect and Reach Out to Old Friends

This is another basic need we have that is a bit more complicated, or at least requires us to think more creatively. 

Reach out via email or call an old friend. Times like these often highlight the things that matter most, and usually thinking about those we love are at the top of the list. Reach out to reconnect. Try talking about other things besides Coronavirus. What else has been going on in their lives?

Lots of people are discovering the App Marco Polo, which is almost like a video text. It can be a little awkward at first, but we’ve been using this app for two years to talk to our friends and family who live near and far and we love it!

The DC Area Moms Blog has more ideas fon how to connect from afar with family and neighbors. Also, check out the Coronavirus Resource Guide for more ideas to keep you and your family sane during this difficult time.

Things may look different for the next few weeks, or possibly months. It will require us to adjust our routines and expectations. In the mist of all that, and the anxiety and stress it induces, see if you can build in self-care. 

How are you managing stress and anxiety with coronavirus changing the world?