Mental health affects every aspect of life, including parenting. With the recent coronavirus outbreak, many nations have enacted strict lockdown and quarantine procedures to stem the spread of the disease. This situation lead many Irish parents with anxiety disorders to express concerns about how isolation may impact their families. 

Now, a charity called We Are Pangs has created a guide to help these individuals navigate the new reality caused by the COVID-19 virus. Michelle Bradley, the organization’s founder, expressed concerns that those with mental health disorders may face increased issues during this time. She hopes its educational video will ease concerns surrounding the crisis. 

What Is We Are Pangs? 

The charity group We Are Pangs provides perinatal mental health support to expectant parents. One out of every five mothers struggles with a psychological disorder in the year following giving birth. The organization has a unique product line, and a percentage of all sales go toward funding its various programs. It has a team of volunteers and hosts regular events to raise awareness of postpartum needs.

Historically, many physicians have focused on postpartum depression, and new mothers do have an increased risk of suicide during their baby’s initial year. However, the peer support groups and other services We Are Pangs offers seek to decrease the number of tragic deaths. In the wake of the COVID-19 virus, the organization hopes to assuage fears, too, during this trying time. 

How Isolation Exacerbates Anxiety 

Living through an epidemic can increase feelings of anxiety, even among those who are mentally healthy. People understandably express concerns about the risks of falling ill, especially if they are older or have a history of medical issues. They may express skepticism of news reports and fear more catastrophic circumstances await. 

Additionally, people who already have anxiety disorders can find themselves cut off from the network they typically rely on for care. For example, many support groups can no longer meet due to restrictions on gatherings of multiple people in one spot. Those who incorporate holistic therapies such as physical touch and massage can no longer receive the nurturing contact they crave to ease their fears. 

Now, with the coronavirus scare, new moms have another thing to contemplate. While children typically don’t experience the severe symptoms that older adults do if they contract the virus, parents may wonder what they will do if they fall ill themselves. Who will cook the family meals and run the household if they contract the virus? 

New moms may harbor additional questions, such as what is safe to do so if they test positive. Can they continue breastfeeding? As of now, experts have not confirmed any transmission through breast milk, and they encourage new moms to continue the practice to pass on the immune-system benefits. However, they also recommend avoiding contact, which creates a contradiction that would stress nearly any caregiver. 

Even if parents remain healthy, they may have concerns about maintaining needed supplies during the crisis. The panic has created shortages, and those who use disposable diapers may worry about them selling out. They may stress about other necessities, such as wipes, which some people hoard once supplies of traditional toilet tissue dwindle. 

What Can You Do if You Have Anxiety About COVID-19 

If you have anxiety about the COVID-19 epidemic, even if you don’t have a diagnosed mental health condition, consider taking the following precautions:

  • Remember, everyone reacts differently: Some individuals on social media may say people are overreacting to the crisis. Some may criticize your stance or accuse you of being hysterical. Continue to follow the advice of health officials and remind yourself to curb your tongue as to other people’s coping mechanisms. 
  • Take media breaks: While you might feel tempted to tune into 24-hour news broadcasts to catch the latest developments, you can grow more upset from hearing about the pandemic constantly. 
  • Stock up, but don’t stockpile: If you have to isolate yourself, it’s natural to worry about your supply of household staples. Take advantage of delivery services, but don’t wipe out the entire amount available. Remember, everyone is in this crisis together. Get just enough so you ease your anxiety about running low. 
  • Take up a hobby: Now is the ideal time to learn that new language you’ve wanted to master or to keep your hands busy by quilting. You can find a host of free resources online where you can teach yourself a new skill or even pad your resume for when the pandemic ends. 
  • Exercise: Working out can substantially alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. You can find free workouts on YouTube or low-cost fitness streaming apps if you have the budget. 
  • Deep breathing: Practice taking deep breaths if you feel panicky. Exhaling for twice as long as you inhale activates your parasympathetic nervous system and tells your body to relax. 

Easing Isolation Anxiety in New Parents

Parents can take advantage of charities like We Are Pangs to alleviate their fears during the coronavirus pandemic. Everyone, regardless of their mental health status, can use proven coping mechanisms to remain calm until the storm passes.

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About Author

Kate Harveston covers social justice and human rights issues. She graduated with a Bachelors in English and minored in Criminal Justice, so she enjoys writing about anything related to the intersections of law, politics and culture. For more of her writing, you can visit her blog, Only Slightly Biased.

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