The Covid-19 pandemic has been an enormous strain on all of us. Even if your family has remained physically healthy and hasn’t been touched by the virus itself, you’ve been socially isolated for weeks now, missing school, work, activities, friends and extended family.
Mentally, it’s incredibly stressful. Studies are showing more and more of us are experiencing increased levels of distress, depression and anxiety, particularly because of social isolation. Psychologists and other behavioral experts say it’s expected and actually appropriate to experience fear and other negative feelings during intense situations, like what we’re living through right now.
The Center for Advanced Pediatrics Behavioral and Mental Health team is here to help keep stress and anxiety from overwhelming your child, you and our family in this difficult time. Using our Telehealth service, we can provide therapy and medication management for children, families and parents. When your child or you feels sad, grief-stricken, anxious or depressed, please call us for an appointment at 203-229-2000 or click here to access Telehealth.
To help alleviate mild symptoms, our Behavioral and Mental Health team recommends taking these steps:
- Focus on what you can control. There’s a reason people are hoarding toilet paper; it’s something they can do to take control right now. Lack of control can make our anxiety increase. While we don’t recommend buying out paper goods, we do recommend focusing on what we can control, such as preparing healthy meals and reading positive stories together.
- Limit your exposure to media. While we all need to stay informed, constant bombardment by the news escalates anxiety in everyone. Even though children may not seem to be engaged, they are listening and their anxiety rises as well. Tune in to the news once a day and stay off news websites and social media feeds.
- Create a schedule, with plenty of flexibility. Put together a schedule with your children, including time for schoolwork, time for reading, and frequent breaks for movement. Breaks in their usual schooldays – recess, switching subjects, bathrooms trips, announcements and more – don’t exist anymore, but your kids still need them.
- Be kind. No matter how hard you try, this situation isn’t going to be perfect. Cut yourself slack when the kids – and you – are still in pajamas at 2 pm and the family room is a mess. Remember to ease up on your expectations for your children and help them relax their own expectations of themselves.
- Make it physical distancing, not social distancing. Humans are social animals. Schedule Zoom or FaceTime sessions with friends for you and your kids to play games, do a project in tandem or just chat about your day.
- Encourage expression of feelings. Yes, we’re all weathering this together, but it doesn’t mean that individual losses and frustrations aren’t still very important, especially for your teens. Ask your kids questions and help them label their feelings, be it grief, anger, sadness, denial or a sense of loss.
- Stay active. Schedule times for physical activity and whenever possible, enjoy the fresh air of the outdoors. Remember to wear a mask whenever you are closer than 6 feet to anyone outside your household family.
- Meditate. Try apps such as Headspace or Calm to help ease anxiety.
- Stay alert to your children’s online behavior. Click here to understand how social media and internet usage can effect your child.
- Explore these resources for your children, teens and yourself.
For parents and caregivers who need someone to listen, to understand and to talk your feelings out.
When you need help to cultivate perspective and curb anxiety, your TCFAP family of healthcare providers is here for you!