COVID-19 has impacted the way we live in numerous ways from how we run errands to how we school our children to how we interact with others. However, I would argue no domain of society has suffered more than the family unit. Parents have been plagued with worry about the economic and physical safety of their families, social isolation they or their children may be experiencing, fears of homeschooling consequences, providing reassurance and knowledge to their children about COVID-19, and obtaining support for the multiple responsibilities parents are now forced to juggle as teacher, caregiver, and employee (Fontanesi et al., 2020). Increasingly, trends have been found during the time of the pandemic indicating that fathers are facing increasing pressure to perform well in their jobs (if they kept their job after the layoff surge) as well as adjust to working from home and participating in more caregiving duties (Mangiavacchi, Piccoli, & Pieroni, 2020). These changes have led to a rapid increase in stress for fathers as they tend to the needs of helping stressed mothers, potentially spend less quality time with family due to working more, and struggle to find an escape from their own responsibilities (Russell, Hutchison, Tambling, Tomkunas, & Horton, 2020). It is well known that men typically do not seek out mental health services or support (Sagar-Ouriaghli, Godfrey, Bridge, Meade, & Brown, 2019). This further compounds the issue and untreated stress can begin to take tolls on marriage. Increases in divorce rates have been reported (Lebow, 2020).
So what can we do in a time of increasing stress where it seems there is no outlet?
1. Keep in mind that the pandemic will end and life will return to a state of normalcy.
2. Try to enjoy the time you have with your family now and make lasting memories. We may not be able to have this time with our loved ones in the future.
3. Find something to be appreciative for each day.
4. Find a new hobby to help distract yourself from stress.
5. Take a deep breath.
6. And if you still find yourself struggling, seek the help of a mental health professional such as a professional counselor.
Fontanesi, L., Marchetti, D., Mazza, C., Giandomenico, S. D., Roma, P., & Verrocchio, M. C. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 lockdown on parents: A call to adopt urgent measures. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 12, S79-S81. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/tra0000672
Lebow, J. L. (2020). The challenges of COVID-19 for divorcing and post-divorce families. Family Process, 59, 967-973. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/famp.12574
Mangiavacchi, L., Piccoli,L., & Pieroni, L. (2020) Fathers matter: Intra-Household responsibilities and children’s wellbeing during the COVID-19 lockdown in Italy. IZA Discussion Papers, No. 13519, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
Russell, B. S., Hutchison, M., Tambling, R., Tomkunas, A. J., & Horton, A. L. (2020). Initial challenges of caregiving during COVID-19: Caregiver burden, mental health, and the parent-child relationship. Child Psychiatry & Human Development, 51, 671-682. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10578-020-01037-x
Sagar-Ouriaghli, I., Godfrey, E., Bridge, L., Meade, L., & Brown, J. S. L. (2019). Improving mental health service utilization among men: A systematic review and synthesis of behavior change techniques within interventions targeting help-seeking. American Journal of Men’s Health, May-June 2019, 1-18. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1557988319857009