Written by Kara McCall, Birth & Postpartum Doula, Childbirth Educator, and Cleo Family Guide
Feeling overwhelmed by all the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) news? Yeah, us too. And when things feel uncertain or out of control, we know stress, anxiety, and fear increase. While we’re on double duty taking care of work obligations and kids at home, it can feel impossible to find time to take care of ourselves. Here are a few key tips from our Cleo Guides that can help you cope with the growing stress and anxiety surrounding COVID-19.
Tips on Managing Fear and Anxiety
We’ve been told that self-care means facials and fancy vacations, but self-care in this moment may look a little different. Take time to adjust your routines, expectations, and arrangements to find time for these tips:
- Remember that you are not helpless and are never alone.
- Separate what is in your control from what is not and focus on what makes you feel good. Is it napping? Limiting the news? Looking at mother nature? Whatever works for you, do more of that.
- Acknowledge and praise how flexible you already are. You’re a parent – job requirement #1 is flexibility. Planned for a PB&J lunch, but ended up making mac and cheese at the demand of your toddler? That’s flexibility – celebrate that!
- Do what helps give you a sense of safety. Whether that’s social distancing, limiting social interaction, pulling children from daycare, stocking up on diapers, or anything else – it’s all valid.
- Enjoy nature. Sunshine and fresh air boost physical and mental health. Sound hard when leaving your house or apartment carries risks? An open window can go a long way!
- Stay present. It is so normal to wonder what is next or how you’re going to get through this. Staying in the moment and focusing on what is right in front of you can help to ease these fears. How do you do that? Use all of your five senses: notice something you see, smell, hear, taste, and touch and name them. This is grounding, and it can feel so good! Get your kids on it too, everyone will be able to breathe a little deeper.
Tips on Warding Off Cabin Fever
Still have work deadlines? But now with kids using you as a jungle gym? We know the work-life balance is challenging on the most routine of days. Try some of these tips to keep work moving forward and kids engaged:
- Step outside and get fresh air throughout the day. You could walk your dog, look at the sky (got clouds? Make a game out of pointing out shapes or animals you see!), push the stroller, or go for a hike or a jog.
- Stay in touch with co-workers. Set up a video conference call and eat lunch together virtually, check in with each other daily and catch up over coffee, reach out over email, phone, instant messaging, text, or video conference.
- Make a plan to structure the day. Things are changing day by day. Remember that bit about flexibility? Make a plan for 2-3 days at a time and reevaluate as needed. Block off chunks of time for designated activities.
Here is an example schedule of trading off baby/child care while working from home with two parents:
Wake up, eat breakfast, get dressed, stretch/move your body, andget ready for the day.
Partner A works online, while Partner B works/attends to children for the first two hours. Then partners switch roles for the second two hours.
Take a break, go outside, check in with yourself and how you are feeling, reach out to a friend and co-workers.
Repeat trading off attending to baby/children again – Partner A works online while Partner B works/attends to children for the first two hours. Then partners switch roles for the second two hours.
Take a break, go outside, play a game, bathe, do homework, eat dinner, and participate in all your favorite evening activities.
We now know more than ever that planning ahead only gets us so far. Being prepared for ever-changing circumstances (ahem, flexibility) is the name of the game. Uncertainty is anxiety-provoking, but we can set ourselves up for success with these tips.
- What will you do if you can’t get to the hospital to give birth? Time to check in with your provider. You may be thinking about a homebirth for the first time. Local doulas and birth collectives can help point you in the right direction.
- What will you do for postpartum care? Postpartum is a wonderful time to cocoon and turn inward. You may be feeling sad or disappointed that family or friends will no longer be able to visit and support you. One thing you can do now is stock your freezer. You could even ask friends and family for recipe ideas and then when you pull out that meal with your new baby in tow, you can video chat to feel connected. If you have contracted support, it is a good idea to reach out to see what your options are. And remember, your Cleo Guide is ready for any and all questions.
Getting creative on staying connected is the name of the game. Video chats, phone calls, maybe even snail mail pen pals! Avoid going to the internet for information and talk to trusted friends – and if you’re a Cleo member, talk with your Cleo Guide. You don’t have to be alone in your worry – we are here to help.
For more tips on navigating family and work life amid COVID-19, visit hicleo.com/covid-19-support.