How to Receive Support for Your Stress?
Current health-related events have changed the way we live, work, stress, and socialize. Between social distancing and shelter-in-place orders, our lifestyles have transformed in a way that would make them unrecognizable to us just months before.
Undoubtedly, these changes have engendered a lot of stress for many of us. Parents are now faced with indefinite school closures, many of whom are now balancing working from home with homeschooling their children. Others are now stuck at home with roommates or partners 24/7, presenting opportunities for conflict that didn’t previously exist.
As we adjust to our new normal for the time being, we must consider the sources of stress in our lives in order to be aware of how these changes are affecting our physical and mental health. After all, stress weakens our immune systems and worsens the feelings of sadness, anger and hopelessness so many of us are already experiencing.
Below, we explore some of the ways in which you might be subjected to stress while keeping up with social distancing and stay-at-home orders to help you recognize and cope better with stress related to the current crises.
As parents, we want nothing more than to project calm and collection to our kids during these uncertain times. Still, we understand that this task is easier said than done! It’s easy to become frustrated when our kids are interrupting us as we work from home or throwing temper tantrums because they feel cooped up in the house. The challenges of having our children at home while we’re working from home are numerous and may contribute to stress in even the most patient of parents during this time.
For single parents, it is already difficult enough to balance work, child care and self-care. In the middle of a global crisis, however, these challenges are greatly exacerbated. We can no longer depend on sources of childcare such as babysitters, afterschool programs or family and friends to support us when we are social distancing. Not to mention, when you are solely responsible for your child, it becomes nearly impossible to get a moment alone amid school closings and stay-at-home orders.
Some single parents may find themselves stuck at home with their children to balance work, homeschooling and stress relief all on their own. Others, however, may struggle with the inability to see their children due to joint-custody arrangements. It may not be safe for them to see a child who lives outside their household amid social distancing guidelines, which can present a huge emotional challenge for single parents who want nothing more than to watch their children grow.
So, how can you manage parenting stress as a single parent during these current events? First and foremost, the Child Mind Institute recommends showing yourself grace when you are parenting less than your best. Right now, we are all in survival mode — meaning that if you can keep the kids fed, occupied and active, it’s a good day. Likewise, you may not be able to homeschool your children five days a week, but if you can incorporate academic activities two or three times a week, you’re already doing great.
Virtual childcare may be another option to help you steal a few minutes alone to create a grocery list or slow down for some deep breathing throughout the day. Video chatting with grandparents, babysitters or your child’s other parent (if they are in the picture) can give you a much-needed break from the stress of childcare while keeping your child safe and entertained. You may even want to set up virtual playdates with your child’s classmates to offer you and other parents an opportunity to breathe.
Parenting While Working from Home
Maintaining routines as a parent is difficult enough with children at home — but it becomes even more challenging when we are trying to work from home, too. Like our children’s schools, many of our offices have been closed for the time being, leaving us to juggle childcare and productivity from the comfort of our homes.
Employers recognize that our worlds have been turned upside down by the coronavirus and that many employees have responsibilities outside the workplace, whether as parents or otherwise. Still, not all companies may be doing enough to support parents during this time, which can make balancing work and home life even more challenging.
Our bosses may schedule Zoom meetings, only to find that they are interrupted by our children. Others may find that their employers have unrealistic expectations for productivity for those of us struggling to keep our kids happy and healthy while working from home. According to the Muse, however, being upfront with our employers about our parenting responsibilities can help make the transition to working from home easier on you and your whole family.
You may want to schedule a conversation with your boss or with an HR representative to let them know about your needs as you transition into working and parenting from home. If possible, creating a schedule allowing you to switch off childcare responsibilities with another parent who is at home can help you set realistic expectations with your boss about when you will be available and unavailable despite working from home.
As many of us are forced to comply with stay-at-home orders, we may find that we are not alone in our confinement to the home. Those of us who are not parents may still need to share the home with relatives, roommates or a partner, which can make working and living from home a real challenge. The lack of alone time and personal space may breed conflict between our cohabitors and ourselves, creating even more stress in our lives amid an already stressful worldwide situation.
Living with Elderly Parents
Even if you do not have children at home, you may find yourself with the responsibilities of a caretaker if you share the home with elderly parents or someone who is similarly immunocompromised. Needless to say, it’s stressful to be faced with the possibility that someone we love could acquire a life-threatening illness — but it’s even more stressful when we find ourselves personally responsible for that person’s health and safety.
Living with an elderly parent or an immunocompromised person forces us to reexamine our daily behaviors and hold ourselves to the highest of standards when it comes to personal protection, safety and hygiene. It may become even more important for us to adhere to official health guidance, such as washing our hands frequently or wearing a mask, when we are responsible for the health and wellbeing of another person. When making a mistake in this area could mean risking someone’s life, it’s no wonder that we may find ourselves stressed and anxious about our current living situation.
It’s even more stressful to deal with an immunocompromised loved one when others in our social groups are not taking precautions seriously. If they do not know of anyone in a similar situation, our friends and family may not understand why we do not want to leave the home or are so meticulous about wearing personal protective equipment and washing our hands. They may have the privilege of taking a cavalier attitude toward the current crisis when many of us do not.
Balancing working from home and caregiving presents even more challenges. As with childcare, our employers may struggle to understand our responsibilities at home and respect our time accordingly. However, elderly parents may also struggle to understand that we are working outside the home, given that they did not have access to technology during their time and may not firmly grasp the concept of meaningful work from home. Harvard Business Review recommends setting boundaries during work hours with visual cues such as wearing headphones or shutting a door. Still, make sure that the person you are caring for has a way to call for you in the event of an emergency, so that they feel safe and you can rest assured that they will be, too.
Living with Roommates
Needless to say, the past few weeks have not been easy for any of us. Some people may be struggling with social distancing due to the fact that they live alone, while others are facing the challenges that come with being cooped up in the home with roommates.
For young people living in expensive cities, the odds of having a roommate are higher, meaning they may find themselves at home with a constant companion. If they are lucky, that person may be a good friend — but even so, that does not mean that there will not necessarily be conflict given the delicate nature of the current global situation. Other, less fortunate people may find themselves in the unlucky situation of being constantly stuck at home with a roommate they don’t get along with.
Having a roommate can generate stress and anxiety during a global health and economic crisis. After all, we can control our own behavior, but we may not be able to control whether our roommates take the current situation seriously or follow the appropriate precautions. As a result, we may find ourselves being placed at risk by another person whom we live with, and able to do very little about it. Some of us may be fortunate enough to be able to stay with family or friends during this time, but others may not — and may be forced to contend with a messy roommate situation amid all the other stressors of a global crisis.
The idea of asking another adult for permission to leave the home may feel silly and, by all rights, inappropriate. But City Lab emphasizes the importance of creating shared expectations with roommates during this time. You must come to an understanding about what level of precautions you will take, especially if you or your roommate’s risk for contracting the coronavirus differs (for example, if one of you has an immunocompromising disease). Whatever degree of precautions you agree to, the most respectful thing to do is to adhere to that agreement until further notice in order to protect you and your roommates from harm.
Struggling with Current Event Stress?
Whether you are a single parent struggling to juggle responsibilities at work and home or a young adult living with roommates who do not take the current events we’re dealing with seriously, you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed at times by the stress you’re facing amid social distancing and stay-at-home orders.
As we adjust to this new normal, you may find difficulty in coping with some of the particulars of your current living situation during this time. If that is the case, we urge you to reach out to us. Our trained counselors are happy to help by talking through your concerns, helping you come to an appropriate resolution for problems and teaching you methods of managing your stress from home.