Combating Anxiety and Depression During COVID-19

Social distancing is in full effect, numerous counties and states have implemented stay home orders, schools and daycares across the U.S. have been closed, and you’re still trying to work and maybe even homeschool your children at the same time.  Sound familiar?  The struggle is real folks. 

Admittedly, I’m generally a realist rather than an optimist.  However, I must be intentional during this time with my work schedule, socialization and mindset, or I’ll inevitably become anxious about the hundreds of things I can’t control during this global pandemic.

Like many of you, as a litigation attorney, I spend much of my time with people – at the office, court, professional conferences and social gatherings with friends, family and neighbors.  Within a matter of days, I’ve been restricted to my home with my husband, and two children (ages 1 and 3).  Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but this is HARD.  Rather than let it get me down, I’m using my anxiety to get organized and keep myself and my family busy, and you can too!

First step, identify your goals.  My goals were simple, maintain a somewhat sane household, stay in touch with friends and colleagues, and uphold my professional obligations.  In my case, my professional obligations require me to continue to meet monthly hour requirements and maintain participation in firm mentoring and diversity and inclusion activities.  Seems easy enough until you’re trying to prepare litigation evaluation reports with a teething 1-year-old screaming in the background and a 3-year-old who insists that her art desk be pushed up against yours so she can “work” with you.  Adorable, but not a productivity enhancer.

Once you have your goals in mind, get organized and be prepared to do what you can to execute your plans for success.  My 3-year-old and I sat down and made a list of fun activities we could do over the next few weeks.  This includes things such as puzzles, painting nails, jumping in puddles, building forts and “Going on a Bear Hunt.”  There is a plethora of online opportunities which include watching zoo animals, listening to live music and participating in children’s yoga, art classes and story time.

As for myself, I reviewed each of my cases and came up with a very specific “to do” list to help me stay on task.  In addition to the work, I have identified potential clients I want to reach out to and acquaintances I want to learn more about.  From a personal perspective, exercise is key for me, but I also enjoy reading, watching movies, listening to music, yoga, meditation, adult coloring books, and of course- Wine!  I have jumped on the Virtual Happy Hour bandwagon and couldn’t be happier!  The women in my firm have also started a group text to share recipes, book, movie and podcast recommendations, photos of pets and kids, and of course ridiculous memes.  Most importantly, it provides comedic relief.    

At a loss for what to do with your time?  Be creative!  Use this time to network, come up with marketing goals, blog, prepare articles for submission to legal publications, catch up on home projects, write letters to loved ones, organize your closets, or better yet…..REST.

Finally, be kind to yourself and to each other during this difficult time and remember WE ARE ALL STRUGGLING in one way or another.  If you need help, ask.  If you need additional mental health resources, they are available and it is ok to seek them out.  If you are simply looking for human contact, set up virtual happy hours, videoconferences, or shoot me an email, I’m happy to make new connections.  Check on your friends and loved ones, do something nice for a neighbor, and remember we WILL get through this.

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