Coping with anxiety as kids go back to in person learning

In just several weeks, school districts will be welcoming students back in-person full-time.

The anticipation brought out mixed reactions with some Washington parents: some told Q13 News that they had no anxiety about the fall, others say they are dealing with a lot of stress with the Delta variant in play.

De’Arra Harris is a single mother of four, and it’s a struggle to find the words to describe the last 17 months.

"It’s hard to even know how you feel really at this situation, it changes second to second," Harris said.

The Federal Way mom says it’s almost impossible for her right now not to think about the Delta variant because she is a medical lab tech on the frontlines.

"I actually do rapid COVID test here at work and I see people coming in that are sicker, symptoms are more severe. There is so much anxiety about it, we were just nervous about COVID and now we have this other variant," Harris said.

The latest wave of cases concerns Harris as her kids get ready to go back in person.

There is so much anxiety about my kids potentially getting sick," Harris said.

At the same time she is worried about classes being canceled. Harris says the last thing her kids need is remote learning again this year.

Harris asked, "How do we deal with the stress, the anxiety that we’ve been under for a year and half at this point?"

Doctors say it’s good that Harris is asking those questions because stress can also impact physical health.

"Stress can be related to a lot of bad outcomes for diseases including chronic diseases things like high blood pressure and diabetes," Dr. Joshua Liao with UW Medicine said.

 Dr. Liao specializes is a general internist at UW Medicine. He often talks to patients about preventing disease and coping with stress is one of the ways.

 Hard as it is, he says the best thing right now is to get comfortable with uncertainty.

"To me you have to embrace it, acknowledge it and revisit it," Dr. Liao said.

Liao says openly name the concerns and talk about them. He also says work with your children on positive self-talk when they are showing signs of negative emotions.

"Kind of frame it as, what if your friend is feeling this emotion and how would you advise and talk to that friend, teaching that child to do that kind of positive reinforcement," Dr. Liao said.

He also says having a list of activities of things to do with your children when things become negative can be helpful.

Dr. Liao says with so much we cannot control in the pandemic, focus on things we can control. For example, practice proper hygiene and walk through school rules with your children ahead of the first day of school.