How Families Can Cope with the Current Stress in Our Lives

March 21, 2020
BBH Senior Advisor, Ellen Perry, shares how families can effectively cope with the stress caused by uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

As we move into the uncharted territory of a pandemic, there are a number of strategies that families can utilize to help reduce the anxiety that they and their family members feel.

First, understand that while every family has different issues and realities, there are several universal commonalities that may make many of the suggestions that follow helpful. Try as many as you can!


Most importantly, family members should connect; connection is the greatest antidote to stress and anxiety. Call, Facetime, Zoom, Skype or take a walk with those who live near you. Make regular times to “visit” with loved ones. Prop up the computer on the dinner table and eat “together.”  Call more frequently than you normally might. We are all at home with hours to fill in new ways. Have puzzles or books sent to family members who might like them. Share ideas for movies to watch at home.

Discuss Your Plans

Try to talk to your adult children about their plans if they, or someone that they live with, gets sick. Will they stay at home? If not, where will they go? Do they have a thermometer at home? Do they have enough fluids and Tylenol? Not only will you be helping them think through the situation, but you will feel better knowing that they have a plan. Talk with them about their feelings. Share your own feelings with them.

Minimize Stress; Maximize Gratitude

Try and minimize your own anxiety by managing the amount of news that you watch. Turn on calming music, light candles, breathe and walk as weather and/or health permits. Look for joy in small moments; it reduces stress. Discuss gratitude. What is it for which you are grateful?

Don’t Make Big Decisions

Try not to make significant, sweeping long-range decisions during this time frame. When we are anxious and times are very uncertain, we have less ability to think in the sophisticated and complex terms that these large decisions often demand. Make the smaller decisions but try not to change major parts of your life right now.

Take Action

Bring actions to your top three values. If you are someone who, for example, values compassion and spirituality, then pray and make donations to some of the many organizations in financial need now. Try and identify your most important values and find ways to lean into them with actions. If family is most important, then make those calls to your children or grandchildren frequent and meaningful. Read a book to the grandkids over Facetime or Zoom. Send a favorite recipe to your daughter or son.

And call your BBH Relationship Manager for more ideas!

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