Strategies to Help Parents Manage Anxiety
By Chelsi McDougal
I’m a mental health counselor, but first I’m a mom. Just like the families I serve every day at SouthLight, I have anxiety over the resurgence of the COVID pandemic. I’m helping others who may be in crisis, but I have my own anxiety the parent of a nine-year-old dealing with another school year with COVID.
Questions and decisions parents have to deal with can cause stress
- How can I get my child to keep his mask on?
- Will the children be socially-distanced?
- What if a teacher gets sick?
- Will there be after school activities?
- When will this pandemic finally be over?
So…how do I advise the individuals and families that I serve, but more importantly, how do I manage my own anxieties as a parent?
If you’re a parent who is struggling with the same questions and concerns, here are five coping strategies to help manage anxiety:
1. Slow down
Try to stay in the moment instead of racing ahead to conclusions. Take time to process options for adjusting back to the new normal. Remember to allow your children time to adjust. Check-in and ensure your child is comfortable.
2. Remember that your anxiety can transfer from parent to child
It is important that the energy we give can transfer to our child. Reflect on your personal feelings before communicating and transferring those to your children.
3. Be clear about what matters to you as a parent
What are your values; what’s important to you that is not influenced by culture or society?
4. Identify your stressors
Reflect on how they affect your decision-making. Different stressors that parents experience can influence your decisions in life. For example, the limited child care that is available for your child could act as a stressor for your decisions about school. It is important to recognize the role that plays in your life and how it reflects on the child as well.
5. Know when to get help
The most important step is knowing when to reach out for help or recognizing when you may need to seek the care of a professional.
Signs you may need to reach out for help or seek the care of a professional
- You don’t have the support that you need; you’ve exhausted your support systems
- What you’re doing is not working; you feel stuck. You need help navigating life with COVID.
- You find yourself engaging in unhealthy coping skills. For example, you have increased trouble making decisions, or you are turning to alcohol or other substances to decrease your anxiety and manage lifestyle decisions.
Remember: You are not alone in your struggles.
Chelsi McDougal is the Administrative Qualified Professional for SouthLight’s Peer Support Services and Community Support Team. Chelsi has interned with SouthLight’s Family Centered Treatment Program and is currently an intern with Outpatient Plus. She has been working at SouthLight for over two years and continues to grow and learn every day!