5 things I learned from Dr. Lisa Damour about coronavirus anxiety

How to manage stress amid coronavirus outbreak

A new poll from Axios-Ipsos says nearly a third of American adults said their emotional well being had gotten worse because of the coronavirus outbreak. Psychologist Dr. Lisa Damour told "CBS Evening News" that the coronavirus outbreak has been "hard on all of us, and especially hard on people who may have already been suffering."

She offered some tips for managing stress and anxiety, as well as advice for parents homeschooling their children after school closures. Here are our top takeaways:

1. A bit of anxiety right now "is the right reaction"

A bit of anxiety is "the right reaction" right now, Damour said, because "it will motivate us to wash our hands to not get too close to people." But it's important to make sure that anxiety "is in the right proportion."

"As of today, the CDC is still saying that the threat of COVID-19 is low, for most Americans, and that's something we want to bear in mind."

2. To help our children's anxiety, keep routines

Children's lives have been especially upended by the coronavirus. To help them navigate the outbreak, Damour said, "kids need routines, kids need structure."  She recommends a daily schedule to "bring some predictability back into daily life. This is what kids really require. It's actually what everybody requires — and it's something that will give them, and also us, tremendous comfort to have."

3. For children learning from home, "let technology be your friend"

With tens of millions of kids home from school, many parents have had to step in to help their children continue learning. Damour suggests that parents "let technology be your friend if you've got good digital access. There are tremendous resources online for kids."

4. Parents with kids at home: "It's OK if you get frustrated"

"The amount of patience we can muster at this moment is going to be really, really important,"  Damour said about staying home with children. "It's OK if you get frustrated, your kids are going to get frustrated." She recommends taking breaks for time outside when tensions run high and tag-teaming homeschooling and child care with another adult if possible.

5. It's "important to be able to distract yourself"

In the long term, Damour said, "anxiety is okay stress is okay, but when it becomes chronic that can really take it out of people." To combat this, "it's actually important to be able to distract yourself. Check out from time to time go watch a funny movie, go call someone who you can just have a light conversation with. Give yourself breaks from it."