Feeling More Anxious During the Pandemic? You're Not Alone, According to Polls
Unprecedented. Uncertain. Unending. The coronavirus pandemic has completely uprooted our lives and clouded us with worry. Many of the moms in my life have confided in me that they've had a good, long cry at the end of a long day recently. Families nationwide are feeling similar effects of anxiety, with schools closed for weeks and social distancing guidelines in place across the country. Parents are now juggling work, child care, and are concerned about their family's health on top of it all, so it's completely normal to feel overwhelmed.
Now's the time to loosen up your normal routine, be a little flexible, and, yes, have a good cry when you need to. You are definitely not alone.
Anxiety Is on the Rise
According to an April 2020 poll by Save the Children—which surveyed parents and children in 1,500 households—67 percent of parents are "somewhat or extremely worried about their child’s emotional and mental well-being because of the virus."
Seventy-one percent of parents reported that money was among their biggest stressors, with more than half "having changed the way they are managing the household budget to pay for food and other essential items." Like many Americans, the coronavirus has affected employment for the parents of this survey, with 26 percent having taken a pay cut or lost wages.
Homework and study help platform Brainly found similar results in their recent survey of 600 U.S. parents of school-age children: Job security was top of mind for 68 percent of parents who have been juggling work and child care due to school closure and, therefore, have devoted more time to their kids during this time. Work productivity is down for many moms and dads, with roughly 37 percent reporting that they clock an extra hour or two at night to "make up for time lost during business hours."
On top of money and work woes, a whopping 84 percent of parents are "worried that COVID-19 related changes to their child’s education schedule and routine will negatively impact their learning," and more than half are thinking about how all of this will affect their kids' college and career plans. Most of the parents surveyed found homeschooling their children stressful and would unanimously agree that teachers deserve So. Much. Credit.
“These survey results are proof that the transition to online learning and homeschooling is changing nearly every aspect of families’ lives, not just for students but also for parents," says Eric Oldfield, Brainly’s Chief Business Officer, who can relate to the struggle as he works from home in New York City with his two daughters, ages 7 and 10.
Kids Are Feeling It Too
While 52 percent of kids in the Save the Children poll reported feeling bored, 49 percent reported feeling worried and 34 percent reported being scared. More than half of the kids surveyed were concerned they wouldn't be ready for school come fall, but even more—74 percent—were worried about missing out on end of school year and after-school activities.
“This survey shows that children are really feeling the impact of being out of school and away from their friends and routine,” says Janti Soeripto, president and CEO of Save the Children. “This is an unprecedented time for the country and the world, and it is critical we listen to children and support them during this crisis.” That's why the organization is offering up free resources to help families learn, manage stress, and have fun.
How to Cope
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a few things you can do to help with the extra stress the coronavirus is adding to your life and to the lives of your loved ones. Here are four tips to get through it:
1. Turn off the news.
Of course you want to stay in-the-know on COVID-19 updates, social distancing guidelines, and plans to reopen your area, but it's important to take a break from watching, reading, or listening to news about the coronavirus. And, yes, that includes taking a little social media break from time to time.
2. Prioritize self-care.
Just as important as taking care of your mind, the CDC recommends carving out the time to take care of your body too. Whether it's through exercise, a balanced diet, a good night's sleep, or meditation, regularly taking care of you can help mitigate anxiety symptoms.
Easier said than done, especially if you're juggling taking care of the kids, playing teacher, and attempting to work, but taking some time each day to unwind with something you enjoy—whether that's a good book, melting into the couch to watch some Netflix, or a relaxing bath—can do wonders.
4. Stay social.
Connect with others as much as you can through text, Zoom, or a good, old-fashioned phone call to chat about how you're feeling, or even just to have a good laugh.
These are not normal times. It's important to remember to go easy on yourself and take it one day at a time. Control the things you can, and find outlets for the moments you're feeling more stressed or anxious.
However, if you or a family member or friend are feeling overwhelmed, or if you already have a preexisting anxiety disorder, it's a good idea to reach out to a mental health professional—many of which are offering telemedicine appointments to see patients virtually. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America also has a number of resources with tips and tools for dealing with anxiety, especially surrounding COVID-19.