#realtalk Stress And Anxiety During Covid

Truth time... I am a trained psychologist, who treats clients with stress and anxiety, and I suffer from anxiety and stress. 

It is something that hits me in waves and there are moments when I feel great, and moments when I want to curl up in a ball and cry. 

I have two children who are currently in distance learning at home. My kindergartener likes to take his class sitting RIGHTNEXTTOME.

This arrangement actually works really great. Because if I am not sitting RIGHTNEXTTOHIM, he does not do his schoolwork and all of the assignments he submits are videos of him pretending he is a YouTube star. As you can imagine, this is nowhere close to what the teacher has requested. 

We are social distancing and staying at home, and there are ALWAYS crumbs all over the floor (this drives me crazy), toys everywhere, kids asking every five minutes, “I'm hungry, can I have a snack?”
More crumbs. 

My husband is working from home as well, but he is in our home office most of the day.

When I have to use the bathroom, invariably my kindergartener is standing outside trying to break the door down, while my second grader is yelling, MOMMY! I NEED this, or I CAN’T FIND that. 

Can you relate?

If so, you're likely as exhausted as I am.

But with that exhaustion I know I am extremely lucky. Thankfully my husband and I can work from home. Many can't. 

I can Facetime my parents and other family members and my kids can do distance learning. So many in this country (!) don't have decent internet access.

I have friends where both parents need to be in the home office, and there is a lot of uncertainty around what to do with their children.

My second grader is relatively independent, which is a bonus. And I have my husband who can help when he has a free moment. I have wonderful friends who I can call and text to vent about how we are struggling and we can lean on each other for support.

Everyone in my family is healthy.

Like I said, I am lucky. However, this does not mean that I am free from everyday stress and anxiety.

Here are some of the tools I break out when I am stressed and anxious these days: 

  • Exercise! We are fortunate to have a Peloton bike so I'm able to use that to get some of my anxiety/stress/frustration/energy out. I ride the bike to focus on me and sweat. I have occasionally cried -- and that's a good thing! When I don’t use the bike, I use the app to do yoga, strength, meditation and stretching. Taking time out to care for body and mind is so important, and you can certainly do this for free. Just hop on YouTube for plenty of workout, meditation and yoga videos. 
  • Don’t stress about screen time. I try to limit it to the weekends, but if I need alone time to work, workout, or just not constantly be asked, “Can I have a snack?”, I let my kids use the iPad (with all the parental controls).
  • Take a bath. I took a steaming hot bath and put a pumpkin enzyme mask on my face, while catching up on Bridgerton. It was amazing. I informed my husband, locked the door and just relaxed. Once I got out of the bath, I continued watching Netflix while ignoring the rest of the world. Sometimes we humans just need to check out. It's amazing how 30 minutes of me time can re-energize and relax the nervous system.
  • Talking to family. I know, I know... This is not an anti-stress activity for a lot of people. I'm happy to say that I am very close to my parents. We talk multiple times during the week and, more often than not, it is enjoyable. Sure, sometimes my brothers and I have to get on my parents to get them to do this or that, but I know that I am lucky to have them. At the end of the day, making time to chat with a family member or a close friend is so worth it for a bit of catch-up and connection and those feel-good vibes.
  • Gratitude. At dinnertime, I try to have all of us share things we are grateful for because it is easy for the good stuff to get buried under negative feelings. We go around the table and share: 1. Roses (positive) of the day.  2. Thorns (struggles) of the day.  3. Things we are grateful for. There are many things I am grateful for, and it's important to voice them. I love hearing what my kids are grateful for as well. It really puts things into perspective when they are grateful to be able to do kindergarten with me right next to them, and they see it as a treat instead of an inconvenience.   

We all have bad days, but we can find ways to turn it around. Press pause, breathe, taking comfort in the fact that, as Glennon Doyle says, you can do hard things.