All Posts Tagged: pandemic anxiety

boy wearing facemask

What About Kid’s Mental Health During Covid?

2020 has changed our world dramatically. We know that adults are struggling with the challenges brought on by shut downs and worries about protecting themselves and their families from the virus. But what about kid’s mental health during covid?

Our children have had to deal with their own upheavals. They’ve gone from familiar school routines and activities to shortened sports schedules, reduced or eliminated school programs and navigating through virtual learning while being isolated from friends. All of this disruption has raised their own stress levels.

Signs Of Pandemic Stress In Kids

Just as with adults, stress and anxiety in children often shows up in both physical and emotional ways.

Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Expressing fears about their health or that of a family member
  • Trouble concentrating in school, or slipping grades and test scores
  • A worsening of mental health conditions they may already have
  • Not wanting to do things they usually enjoy
  • Expressing fear and / or hopelessness about the future
  • Angry outbursts, crying or tantrums

Physical symptoms can include:

  • Nightmares and problems sleeping
  • Gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, stomachaches or diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Muscle tension or, conversely, indifference and listlessness

What Should I Do If I Am Concerned With My Child’s Well Being Due To Covid-19?

Check in with your kids – It’s easy for children to get carried away by their fears, while keeping their worries to themselves. This is especially true because kids can sometimes have trouble expressing their anxiety. For that reason, it’s a good idea to check in with your kids periodically. This way, you can answer any questions and help to calm them.

Limit catastrophic thinking – Whether we realize it or not, kids pick up on their parent’s distress. As difficult as it may be for you to deal with your own concerns and “what ifs” about the impact of the pandemic, it is best if you can refrain from talking too much about them around your children.

We aren’t saying that you should act like your fears aren’t real issues, but it can help children feel more secure if parents can deal with their concerns in a healthy way.

Catastrophic thinking (i.e: automatically envisioning the worst in a situation) teaches kids to model the same behavior when dealing with their own stress. You want your child to come out of the pandemic stronger, not someone who is terrified of what the future may hold.

Think positively – You’ve probably heard the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it.” That applies with positive thinking as well.

A 2020 study by Marmolejo-Ramo, et al, published in Experimental Psychology showed that when your facial muscles turn up in a smile, “the emotion implied by the covert facial expression seems to engage a wide range of motor systems that, all together, are representative of the ongoing emotional state.”

What this means is that forming a smile with your facial muscles activates neurons in your brain. These neurons actually put you into a more positive emotional state. If you feel more positive, your outlook will be more positive, too.

Take a break from the news – The next thing to do is to take a break from your news media exposure, as well as your social media feeds. Constantly watching and reading about pandemic death counts and hearing doom and gloom stories can make anyone feel helpless. They keep our emotions and pandemic anxiety elevated.

Use the pandemic as a way to reset. Eat meals together with your kids, do activities as a family, and enjoy the things you can right now. Find creative ways to engage your kids, no matter how lame they say you are.

Boredom breeds pessimism and a more negative outlook, so try thinking out of the box. Do something totally silly with your children, like making one of those videos we’ve been seeing of dads with dancing with their kids. What your kids will remember is that you spent time with them. Doing something fun will teach them to look for the positive side of a challenging situation.

Keep to a routine – Kids feel more secure when they know what to expect and can anticipate what’s coming. Having meals or doing school work at a certain time, setting time aside for exercise and family activities, and going to sleep on a schedule all contribute to helping us feel in control. It’s okay to be flexible but, as much as possible, try to stick to the routines you had before the pandemic.

Helping Kid’s Mental Health During Covid

If your child is struggling with anxiety or depression during the pandemic, our compassionate child psychologists are here for them. For more information, contact The Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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Toddler holding American flag

Is Election Stress Affecting Your Child?

Anxiety is mounting while the country waits for the official results of the 2020 election. In this unique pandemic year, the very contentious and now unresolved election has raised everyone’s stress levels. Since the topic is on everyone’s mind, there can be no doubt that election anxiety has affected our children as well. Regardless which side of the debate you land on, it is likely that you have been discussing the election in your home.

In the days before the election, the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted a “Stress in America” Harris poll that was set up to gauge stress levels. The results showed that the majority of Americans (68 %, in fact) reported feeling a significant amount of stress about the presidential race. This stress was felt across party lines. It is uncertain how much the stress of the ongoing pandemic has contributed to our anxiety, but we do know that the hotly debated and oftentimes nasty election has affected many people.

Results Of Election Stress On Kids

With so many adults talking about the election unknowns, we are sure that their distress and fear is trickling down to their children. Young children likely won’t understand the complications that have developed, but kids do pick up on their parent’s stress even when parents try to shield them.

Older children and teens who do understand the election process may have become victims of bullying after peers took sides. Even if they haven’t been harassed, they have likely felt some loss of control or may have had arguments with peers who fall on the opposite side politically.

How To Help Kids Cope With The 2020 Election Anxiety

The first thing to do when helping your child through both election stress and the pandemic anxiety is to give them a safe outlet for their fears. Make sure they know that it is normal to feel distress when things are out of our control. Tell them it is okay to ask questions or to talk about their emotions.

You will also want to limit your news consumption as well as that of your children. The same goes for social media exposure during troubling times. When we binge on news reports about election recounts or debates about the outcome, it keeps emotions running high.

Instead, try to do something together as a family. Pull out the family board games, take a walk, work on holiday crafts, visit a park, or engage your children in other activities that they enjoy. The point is to take care of yourself and your children’s mental health first.

In some ways this distress can also  have some positive aspects to it. By teaching your children to respect the opinions and political parties of others, the debate becomes a life lesson. Help them understand that it is okay for people to have different beliefs since we all have come from different backgrounds and experiences. Tolerance for another viewpoint does not mean they have to agree with it.

In addition, when the winning candidate is officially declared, your reaction can also be a life lesson for your kids. Showing them how to be gracious if your candidate won or how to respectfully accept defeat and disappointment if they didn’t teaches kids how to work towards a kinder world going forward.

Helping Children With Anxiety

For more information about how our child psychologists can help your child deal with election anxiety,  contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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college student studying

Anxiety Rises Among College Students During The Pandemic

Another year of college is in full swing across the country.  In an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 among their students, some schools have gone to strictly virtual learning. Others, however, are combining this option with in-person classes, which creates a higher chance of exposure to the virus. In addition, many campuses are dealing with students who flaunt social distancing guidelines and gather for parties, which spreads it even more. While many young people were eager to get back to college after being fairly isolated during the summer, we are finding that these seemingly reckless situations are negatively impacting the mental health of many students.

Earlier this year, the American College Health Association collected information for their Spring, 2020, National College Health Assessment. At that time, an average of 49.6 percent of the 50, 307 respondents reported moderate levels of stress. Another 24.9 percent said they were experiencing high levels of stress – and that survey only included schools who had begun their data collection prior to March 16, 2020, when many states began shutting down. Today, those numbers are much higher.

In fact, the results of a study done at nine public research universities across the U. S. and led in part by the University of California, Berkeley, Center for the Study of Higher Education (CSHE), shows the incidence of major depressive disorder among college students has more than doubled since Spring, 2019.

Anxiety Symptoms

If your college student is suffering from anxiety, they will likely show some emotional or physical symptoms. Keep in mind that they may not have all these symptoms – they may only have a couple of them. It’s important to talk to your child if they are experiencing some of these concerns.

  • Problems concentrating on coursework (or in general)
  • Distress about their own health or the health of loved ones
  • Changes in eating patterns
  • Trouble sleeping
  • An increase in the use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
  • A worsening of mental health conditions they may already have

There are also physical symptoms of anxiety that may include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Headaches
  • An increase in migraines
  • A rapid heartbeat or shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Sweating

Self-Care For Your College Student’s Mental Health

Sometimes taking a little extra time for self-care can help to reduce the mental health aspect of college life during the pandemic. We recommend your student try the following:

  • First, remember that the pandemic is temporary. At some point we’ll have a vaccine, the pandemic will ease, and life will become more normal.
  • In the meantime, it is good to stay connected with family and friends. Your teen can either do this in person (while safely social distancing) or they can keep in touch through a video application, such as Zoom or Facetime.
  • Know that it is okay to feel scared or angry, sad, homesick or anxious. But they should tell someone if they are feeling this way – especially if it has gone on for more than two weeks or if they seem to be feeling worse.
  • Limit online and social media time to avoid being sucked into the gloomy headlines that are so prevalent right now.
  • Set daily goals for completing assignments and tasks.
  • Maintain a routine – as much as possible, they should try to eat at regular mealtimes, get up or go to sleep on a schedule, do coursework on a schedule, etc.
  • Make time every day to do something enjoyable. It can be as simple as carving out time to meditate or do yoga, read a book for fun, or write in a journal.
  • Set aside time to get outside – fresh air, a change of scenery, and endorphin-releasing exercise can all help to rejuvenate the mind.
  • Look into a campus support group, which will help them feel less alone.

If these self-care measures aren’t enough to help your student with their distress, suggest that they reach out to their campus’ psychological services. The campus  counseling center likely can help through phone, telehealth or video platforms, eliminating the need for your child to visit the center in-person.

We Care

If your college student is struggling with the mental health effects of the pandemic, oftentimes it can help to talk with a children’s therapist. We are here with both virtual / online and in-person treatment options.

For more information about how our child psychologists can help your college student deal with anxiety about college life during the pandemic, contact the Children’s Center for Psychiatry Psychology and Related Services in Delray Beach, Florida or call us today at (561) 223-6568.

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