• Kait Towner, LMHC, RPT, CCPT, IMH-E

Pandemic Parenting: Is Separation Anxiety the New Norm?

Now that we are all starting to come out from under our pandemic rocks, people are starting to wonder how our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings will be impacted by this global pandemic. There are many different ways to feel about reintegrating into the world, but there are times that you may need to seek help from a mental health provider. Today's blog discusses the emotional impact of the pandemic on us, our children, and families in addition to the signs of a larger issue requiring mental health support.

It's normal to have mixed feelings

Individuals that have spent significant time together during the pandemic should expect a dichotomy of emotions. On one side, most individuals will feel relief in that they can finally get some space from their loved ones in addition to the pandemic being closer than ever to being concluded. On the other hand, there will be some feelings of unease, anxiety, and discomfort due to individuals being farther away from their small social circle than they have been in a year and a half.

Research says that it takes between 18 and 254 days to form a habit. As of this writing we have been in this global pandemic for 453 days, giving all of us plenty of time to form the habit of only socially interacting with a small bubble of individuals. It will take a bit of time for us to feel comfortable and reverse this habit. That being said, it is very common for many of us to experience both relief and unease when returning to the greater population.

Is Separation Anxiety normal?

Separation anxiety is a very common reaction to those who have experienced a high level or stress or trauma. We have collectively experienced a global trauma with COVID-19. Due to all of us having experienced a trauma, it is a very natural response to experience separation anxiety.

How can Separation Anxiety be managed?

There are a few different ways to manage separation anxiety. You can carry a special trinket of a loved one that you are having difficulty separating from, such as an item of jewelry, hair tie, or even a picture of the individual. Some other strategies include thinking of positive memories with that individual, thinking of the next time that you will see said individual, in addition to engaging in positive self talk (ie “I am save,” “I am protected,” “I am secure,” “I am calm”) If the separation anxiety is significantly impacting you or your loved ones’ functioning, it would be most beneficial to connect with a psychotherapist for more individualized support.

Separation Anxiety can become problematic

Separation anxiety can be detrimental an individual’s functioning. A sign that separation anxiety is a significant problem is if you (or your child) follow the individual(s)wherever they go, have to be sitting next to or touching the individual(s), you experience significant worries and anxieties when separated from the individual(s) particularly in regards to their safety and wellbeing, and you have nightmares that something bad will happen to the individual(s). If you or a loved one are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, it would be helpful for you to seek professional help from a psychotherapist.

Separation anxiety is a real and diagnosable occurrence. If an individual is experiencing significant symptoms that is impacting their ability to work, socialize, or just be in the world, it is important for them to obtain help from a psychotherapist.

Is your child experiencing separation anxiety to where it would be beneficial to connect to a therapist? Contact me today at (585) 206-1506.

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