The first day of school is approaching as pediatric Covid cases are on the rise. Parents of school-aged kids may be feeling the dread of embarking on yet another school year amidst the backdrop of the pandemic.
Regardless of your attitude toward masks, vaccination, and social distancing, the fact is it’s a stressful time to be a parent. Decision fatigue, concerns about your child’s safety, fear of more school closures, and sadness for the losses and changes brought on by the pandemic are among the many stressors parents are currently facing.
Taking care of yourself is important and necessary, especially during times of turbulence. Here are 3 tips for coping with back-to-school stress:
1. Practice mindfulness
Mindful practices effectively reduce stress by relaxing the mind and body. Here are a few articles we wrote about mindful practices:
- 3 Grounding Exercises for Anxiety
- 7 Fundamental Coping Skills for Stress
- 5 Types of Meditation for Managing Anxiety
2. Focus on factors within your control
You may find yourself getting stuck in “if only” thoughts. If only this pandemic never happened. If only my child could have a “normal” school experience. It’s hard to resist thinking like this, but it only contributes to deeper suffering and feelings of anger and resentment.
Reorienting your attention from “if only” thinking toward focusing on factors within your control can reduce tension and anxiety. What can you do to benefit your mental health? Focus on pillars of mental health like establishing routines, prioritizing sleep, exercise, and nutrition, and making room for silliness, lightness, and fun.
3. Reflect on how you’ve grown
Going through tough times can reveal to us our own resilience. Remember that you’ve already been through this – you’re more prepared than you might think.
Say you’re worried about schools closing again. This would certainly be disappointing at best. Imagining a situation as completely intolerable is a common cognitive bias. When we really don’t want something to happen, we imagine we just won’t be able to handle it.
Take stock of what helped you get through it before. What did you learn about yourself and your own resourcefulness or ability to cope through hard times? Who were the people in your life that helped?
Learning and implementing these skills can be an important component of managing your stress. However, if you’re finding your stress to be unmanageable, talking to a therapist could help.
Great Lakes Psychology Group values simple access to mental healthcare. Click here to learn more about the services we provide.