Anxiety and Parenting as a Public Defender During COVID-19

At risk of stating the obvious, being a public defender and parent during a pandemic can cause a little anxiety.

I thought I had a good collection of tools for managing anxiety. This pandemic is challenging my tools. It has so many layers to add to the normal anxious mental chatter and existential angst.

The article Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty, by Dr. Doreen Marshall (link here talks about the challenge of uncertainty, and has some great strategies. She suggests:

  1. Focus on what is within your control: wash your hands, take your vitamins.
  2. Limit news consumption. (I’m seeing so many friends and colleagues say they are now limiting news and social media, such as to 30 minutes each am and pm.)
  3. Get outside in nature. (I think my morning hike is the biggest single sanity tool I have in place right now).
  4. Stay in the present—particularly by engaging in mindfulness activities as a way to stay grounded in the present moment.
  5. Stay connected to friends and community.
  6. Utilize mental health resources.

Some additional great resource lists with many articles and links and practices for managing anxiety right now are the ABA and the Greater Good Resource Center.

A particular kind of stress and anxiety many of us are experiencing relates to the sudden school closures. In addition to worries about clients, and the general concern for health and welfare, are specific concerns relating to suddenly being home with our children. Are we supposed to be homeschooling them, as we work remotely, and instantly become 24/7 gourmet home chefs? What about screen time, isolation from their friends, talking to them appropriately about pandemic? Who will care for them if we become sick?

Some resources for navigating these difficult questions, and keeping children stimulated at home, are these: Greater Good Science Center Guide to Well Being During Coronavirus For Parents, Virtual Story Time, Virtual Field Trips, and Mo Willems Lunch Doodle.

I’m sure the online resources will only increase as people continue to tap into new creativity and innovation. Don’t take my word for it, believe the Chino Hills High Chambers Singers, who remind me that the kids are alright.

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