Momdemic  Stress

Momdemic Stress

By Contributing Writer Darién Castillo

Worn out by endless Zoom calls, household chores that seem to double every week, the stress of juggling work and family tasks? Pandemic life has certainly taken its toll on almost everyone and seems to be hitting moms the hardest, especially those with younger children. The constant stress of managing multiple lives at once is contributing to a staggering 93% of mothers in the US saying they feel burned out, while 16% feel burned out all of the time (according to a recent survey by Motherly). It is also no surprise that 74% of moms say they feel mentally worse since the start of the pandemic, while 63% say they have been managing household responsibilities and chores mostly by themselves.

The constant multitasking and invisible labor involved in managing household and family life, also known as the mental load, typically falls on women’s shoulders and pandemic life has amplified it. Many mothers wonder how much more they can take. In serious cases, the stress of quarantine can manifest itself in the forms of depression, anxiety, and/or severe insomnia that contributes to feelings of mental and physical exhaustion.

So how to fight burnout? There are of course general strategies that you probably hear over and over such as spend time outdoors, find time to exercise, sign up for online yoga or meditation classes, read, and try to stay socially active. But what about those who find themselves managing work zooming, their young children’s zoom schooling, making grocery lists, throwing in a load of laundry and breakfast all before 9am? Finding even 10-15 minute ‘rest breaks’ throughout the day is a strategy recommended by psychological experts. Another is trying to limit the number of zoom work meetings and replacing some with phone meetings and email.  It can also be beneficial to stay away from social media or other news outlets during your downtime, as these will inevitably introduce more things to worry about when you should be unwinding. Similarly, you can completely cut yourself off from technology during the small breaks you find for yourself throughout the day. For more tips, visit the resources below:

UCI Health: Coping with Mommy Burnout

HBR: Combating Burnout as a Single Working Parent

Coping with COVID-19 Stress

Coping with COVID-19 Stress

By Contributing Writer Darién Castillo

With more and more people getting vaccinated in the US, it appears like the end to the quarantine experience is just around the corner. Some dealt with the emotional toll of the pandemic by finding new creative outlets, such as baking bread, socially-distanced nature walks, picking up new hobbies, maybe even writing a book. But not all people experienced the pandemic in the same way. With a death toll of over 1 million worldwide, the Pandemic certainly inflicted much loss and grief onto communities. And, many who survived Covid continue to experience lingering health and mental health issues. Aside from the physical consequences inflicted directly by the virus, many have also been affected by fear of the virus itself or by extended periods of loneliness during quarantine isolation. Even as Covid restrictions appear to be coming to an end, the physical and psychological consequences persist.

If you or a loved one still suffer from psychological impacts caused by the pandemic, you are not alone. After more than a year of isolation depression, anxiety and social anxiety have been on the rise.  Symptoms may include mental or physical fatigue/exhaustion, lack of motivation, or anxiety about social interactions.

Fortunately, these symptoms are manageable and treatable. If you are anxious about socializing or interacting with large groups of people, start slow. Meet up with one or two people, then slowly expand your social circle to a point that feels comfortable. Follow pandemic safety protocols such as social distancing and wearing masks, and larger social interactions will inevitably begin to feel more natural. Small communal activities such as book/movie clubs or outdoor visits are a great way to reintegrate social interaction into one’s life.

For essential workers as well as those just returning to in-person work environments, it is important to take frequent breaks and get plenty of rest. Consistent sleep schedules can improve one’s mental health greatly as well.  Mental and physical wellness programs are a great tool to take advantage of, as some companies offer them to employees and their families. You may also want to seek professional help through therapy and teletherapy, a safe and convenient alternative to in-person counseling sessions. However you may be feeling now, it is important to remember that these symptoms do not last forever, and that however long it may take, life will eventually begin to feel normal again.

Visit these resources for coping strategies (updated):

Coping With Stress – CDC

Mental Health and COVID-19 Information and Resources

NIH Shareable Resources on Coping With COVID-19 Related Mental Health Issues

Resources for Employees and Workers: Pandemic Stress and Anxiety

For additional resources in San Diego County, call the Access and Crisis Line 24/7 at 1-888 724-7240. If you or a loved one is experiencing a mental health emergency, call 911 or visit the nearest Emergency Room (ER).

Parenting During a Pandemic: A Letter to Parents

Parenting During a Pandemic: A Letter to Parents

Dear Parents:

You are heroes! Truly. In one month you have taken on so many additional full-time roles: classroom/preschool teacher, counselor, coach, zoom conference coordinator, lunch lady, and _____________ (fill in the blank). The current situation has taken the concept of “multi-tasking” to a whole new level.

Below I have compiled a handful of resources for parenting during the Age of Coronavirus. I hope that some of them will be helpful to you and your loved ones! 

Warm regards,
Danielle Michaelis Castillo

Talking with kids about Coronavirus:

Coronavirus: A Book for Children a book just published by Nosy Crow, a British children’s publisher, available as a free download; to help explain the virus to children
CDC Guide for Talking with Children

NYTimes article lists additional free picture book resources (different age groups) for talking with kids about the virus

For when you need a homeschooling break – sit side by side with your school aged child(ren) and connect the them to Audible via headphones. A lovely narrator will read them a story while you have some time to join a mindfulness practice via UCSD’s Center for Mindfulness.

Audible Free Audio Books for Kids (infant through teens ). Free until schools re-open; includes Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Book 1 read by actor Stephen Fry – this listen is truly a magical and theatrical experience

UCSD Center for Mindfulness is offering free live and recorded mindfulness practices and resources (for adults)

Reading for parents working from home:
8 Tips for Working From Home With Kids During COVID-19 (Yale Medicine)

The Reasons Zoom Calls Drain Your Energy (and what to do about it)

Feeling discouraged? Be gentle with yourself and listen to something inspirational:
How to Go Easy On Yourself in a Pandemic from the Ten Percent Happier Podcast (talk w/ Kristen Neff, Ph.D whose research focuses on self-compassion)

Brene Brown Ted Talk (researcher and author Brene Brown’s 2010 Ted Talk is so relevant to our situation in this moment: vulnerability, courage, and belonging versus “not good enough” self-talk)  

Managing relationship conflict:
Conflict and Connecting in Crisis from the Gottman Institute

NY Times article on communicating and managing conflict (adults)

Other free Resources/Activities:

Raddish Kids (hands-on) – incorporate math, science, and language arts through cooking. This website currently offers an array of recipes that are fun to make, tasty, and build kids’ self-confidence during uncertain times. 

NatGEO@ Home (on-line) – National Geographic’s website offers fun activities and educational games for families. Whether you have 5 minutes or 30 minutes, this website can offer a great way to connect. Activities update daily.