The New York Times recently referred to the COVID-19 pandemic as a “mental health crisis for parents.”
And they aren’t wrong.
As a parent, you have probably noticed a shift in your mental health in the last seven months, especially if your children are school age. The New York Times articles sites several statistics that prove you are not alone if you are a parent struggling with depression or anxiety right now.
- “…research from the American Psychological Association showed that in April and May, parents with children at home under 18 were markedly more stressed than non-parents.”
- “More recent data from the University of Oregon’s RAPID-EC survey, which polled 1,000 nationally representative parents with children under 5 every week through the end of July…shows that parents of young children are particularly stressed.”
- “Sixty-three percent of parents said they felt they had lost emotional support during the pandemic.”
- “According to a study from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, 61 percent of parents of 5, 6 and 7-year-olds in Massachusetts agreed or strongly agreed that they felt ‘nervous, anxious, or on edge’ because of the pandemic.”
The article also notes that women who are pregnant or have recently given birth as well as parents who are struggling to provide financially for their children are the most at risk for mental health issues right now.
This time is trying for everyone, but the data is showing it may be affecting parents the most. You are worried about providing for your children. You are worried about what is best for your child right now as far as school and in-person activities. You are worried about the health of your family. And, you are worrying about all of this while being stuck at home most of the time and told that the world around you is a threat.
This combination of anxieties and unknowns in a stressful environment will surely take a toll on any parent’s mental health.
If you are a mom or a dad who is struggling with your mental health right now, first know that you are not alone, as the studies show above. Second, know that there is hope. We may not know when the pandemic will end, but there are things you can do now to help reduce your stress and improve your mental health even in the midst of this pandemic.
Determine what relieves stress for you.
Stress relievers are different for everyone. For some, it’s exercise. For others, it’s solitude or cleaning your house or prayer or meditation. What is your best stress reliever? (Hint: It is not endlessly scrolling through social media or reading news headlines right now.)
Decide what it is and then make time for it on your calendar. Literally, write it on your calendar as something you can do every day or every other day for 30 minutes to an hour. Tell your household you will be busy during this time and hold it sacred. You can take turns with your spouse, so you each get your stress-relief time.