On a gloomy Monday afternoon, I sat on the table during my 32-week prenatal appointment, and my doctor asked the question she always asks, “Do you have any questions?” This being my third pregnancy, I didn’t have many questions about the normal aches and pains that I’m feeling at this point, but I couldn’t help but ask, “Should I be worried about the coronavirus?” She reassured me that I should continue living my life as usual, but things could change at any moment. “We just don’t know enough about this virus yet.” Three days later, I received an email from my daughter’s preschool, letting me know that her school would be closing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As an already anxious mom, particularly around the health of my family, I started to feel out of control. Maybe this is more serious than we initially thought.
While I’d like to say that I felt anxious for a minute and then moved on, this isn’t true. I will be staying home with my kids for a few weeks, but I still have a husband who is exposed to people at work every day, and two grandmas in the at-risk age group. I also have two young kids who have no idea, or care for, what is going on right now (let’s be real, my two-year-old still puts his mouth on everything), but I need to be a somewhat content, present mom for them so we can get through this time together.
If you, too, are feeling anxious and overwhelmed right now, log out of social media, turn off the news, and try doing one of these things instead.
- Meditate. Many of us are spending a lot of time at home now, and we need to find ways to find peace. Thankfully, there are quite a few easily accessible mindfulness apps for both iPhone and Android phones, and most of them offer free trials — check out Headspace, Calm, or Aura. If you’re pregnant, Expectful is a great app to try!
- Try tapping. Emotional freedom technique (EFT), or tapping, is an alternative therapy that can help alleviate anxiety by tapping on specific parts of the body in a particular sequence. I have had this done at my chiropractor’s office, but you can try it yourself at home with a YouTube tutorial, or if you are local to the Indianapolis area, Casey VanPutten offers both online and in-office sessions that are tailored to moms.
- Exercise. It might be harder to get to the gym right now, but there are still plenty of at-home options available. YouTube is one of my favorite places to find free workouts, whether it’s a strength workout from BodyFit by Amy, Pilates with Robin from The Balanced Life, or Yoga with Adriene. As it continues to warm up outside, a stroller walk with the kids or game of tag in the backyard can be just as therapeutic.
- Read a good book. As an anxious mom, I’d stay away from anything too scary or depressing, but a lighthearted book is an excellent replacement for scrolling social media before bed. Search Amazon for something new, or see if your library allows you to borrow free audiobooks. If you’re looking for book recommendations, Goodreads is a great place to start!
- Watch a mindless TV show. When anxiety sets in, sometimes all you can do is lay in bed and watch something mindless to distract yourself from the feeling of overwhelm. I recommend Love is Blind on Netflix — just don’t watch it with your kids!
- Clean the house. When everything else feels out of control, taking control of one area of your life, or in this case, your house can feel very therapeutic. Clean the bathrooms, wash the floors or organize a closet, and feel a little bit more at peace in your home.
- Go outside. As spring arrives and the weather hopefully gets nicer, we can take advantage of some fresh air and get ourselves and the kids outside to play. This might not be the time to crowd the playground, but a little bit of sunshine is healthy for everyone.
- Get more sleep. Sometimes the best way to turn my mind off is by going to bed early. The more sleep I get, the better I feel. If you are like me and have trouble staying asleep at nighttime, consider trying hypnosis. Hypnobabies offers hypnosis tracks for both pregnant and non-pregnant people, including a specific one for peaceful sleep.
- Take a shower or a bath. This isn’t necessarily to get clean but to reset. A good 20-minute shower (alone, with the kids safely supervised by someone else) can be so helpful on anxious days, and if you need to have a good cry while you’re in there, no one will ever know.
- Talk to someone. In a time when everything feels so uncertain, it can be helpful to acknowledge our feelings. Speak to a therapist or find a friend who can relate. If you are seeking professional help but don’t want to/can’t find time to leave the house, BetterHelp is an online counseling service that allows you to receive therapy from home.
At the end of the day, we are all going through this in our own ways, and we need to be kind to ourselves and each other. As I was leaving my doctor’s appointment on that dreary Monday, my doctor told me that I will probably always associate my baby’s birth year with the COVID-19 pandemic, but soon enough, the outbreak will be a distant memory for most people. We can only hope and pray that is true.