Our Guide to Coping with Coronavirus Anxiety

Adults |

If you missed our first Facebook live stream, not to worry! We’ve got a recap for you here on all things Coronavirus: how to nurture your mental health while self-isolating, staying calm in the midst of pandemic anxiety, talking to your kids about current events, creating joy amidst the uncertainty, and more. To learn more, keep on reading!

Advice for staying calm and making good decisions

  • The first thing to do is to accept that you’re not always going to be calm, and expecting otherwise is unreasonable. Powerful emotions are to be expected here. The important part is taking the time to understand why you’re anxious. Is it because you’re worried about your elderly parents? Or that your kids’ education will be negatively impacted? Are you unable to work from home and concerned about your income going down? The better you can understand the nature of what’s causing your anxiety, the more equipped you’ll be to make adjustments to your new routine moving forward.
  • Avoid sensationalization and pay attention only to the experts (e.g. Provincial and Federal government figures).

Talking about Coronavirus with your kids

  • Take a “just enough” approach when discussing this with your kiddos. Answer their questions to the extent that you satisfy their curiosity, but stop there. You don’t need to give them the complete breakdown like you’re hearing on the news.
  • Remember that there is no “editor” or “filter” on the internet. You are your kids’ editor. Now is the time to be even more mindful of the information coming into your house and making its way into your kids’ minds. Shelter them from fear-mongering news and choose to be the source of facts for them yourself – not their friends or apps.

Finding ways to create joy

  • Check out our ideas here on creating joy in this uncertain time. The more happiness you create at home, the better your mental health will be.

Tips for successfully working from home

  • If you normally sleep in on the weekends, keep doing that. If it’s a Monday, though, and you’re rolling out of bed an hour or two later than normal, something needs to change. In the absence of structure, the void will likely be filled by negativity (e.g. boredom, worry, doubt, or anxiety). Give yourself the normality that is too easy to fall out of during these times.
  • Carve out dedicated time for your work. Create separate, intentional spaces (i.e. no conference calls from your bed!). If you have kids, tell them that from 10am – 12pm, “mommy/daddy’s working. I need you to give me private time during that window.” Coordinate with your childcare or partner and try to stay focused during your dedicated windows.
  • Multitask when you can! Boil pasta while you’re responding to emails. Put the washer on while on an audio conference call. Multitasking gets a bad rep sometimes, but these are extraordinary times and we’re going to need to make some adjustments.

What to keep in mind in caring for your family’s mental health at home

  • Keep as much of your normal routine as possible. If you have supper with your family in the evenings, keep doing that. Keep reading to your kids before bed as usual, if that’s something your family does. If you usually work out in the morning, there are tons of options for at-home workouts. Maintain your calming routines that give everyone structure.
  • If you have kids, make sure you’re giving them the environment they thrive in: high structure, high love. Give them warmth and routine as much as you can.
  • As a parent, don’t rob your kids of their spring break. Find other opportunities to do fun things together as a family, such as going for a hike and packing a picnic lunch. Don’t worry about what’s happening to their education quite yet – here in BC, the ministry will help us figure it out. It’s not the time to panic about their educations – let them enjoy their breaks and trust the government to do its job.
  • Spending increased time at home with your partner can be both fun and irritating. Make sure you’re each getting your alone time as much as you’re getting quality time together.
  • This situation can put even more strain on families who are co-parenting. Now is when you really need to put aside your differences and really listen to each other when it comes to the children you share. You really have to listen to their concerns and find ways to validate and understand their emotions. Otherwise, nothing positive is going to come from your conversations and the situation you’re in will become even harder. Rule #1 – don’t tell your partner OR ex-partner to “calm down,” or “relax.” This will only make things worse. Remember that you’re in this together – neither of you can do this on your own.
  • When dealing with elderly parents who are perhaps wanting to leave the house despite recommendations, ask them why it is they want to leave. If it’s loneliness, find another solution. Promise to call them once or twice a day. Send them photos of the drawings your kids are making for them – or bring them their groceries twice a week. Find out what’s causing them to behave against recommendations and help find other solutions that are safer.

As we all adjust to the many changes happening on a daily basis, remember to be patient and kind with others (and yourself). These are tough times for many and we are called now to stick together, support each other, and be together in solidarity. We will get through this. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for our next livestream, and feel free to send in your questions for our Clinical Director to answer next time!