April 09, 2020

How to de-stress during the coronavirus pandemic 

Source:  NYSUT Research and Educational Services

COVID-19 and the effects of the pandemic are causing stress in all our lives.

Feeling stressed or anxious is a normal reaction during this unprecedented time. Students are home and learning is taking place in new ways, adding to the stress families are under. Kids pick up on feelings of anxiety and stress. During this difficult time, it’s more important than ever to find ways to stay calm and mentally healthy. Families should take time for family self-care and to manage family stress. 

Create a plan for fun. Have a family brainstorming session and come up with some family activities that everyone can enjoy. Create a weekly schedule and action plan around these activities. Some ideas include doing puzzles, playing board games or cards, planning a social distancing dance party or sing-along with neighbors, take a safe family walk, cook favorite meals together or try new activities. 

Here are some additional activities, suggestions, and links that focus on family well-being.  


Exercise in almost any form can reduce stress. Exercise, from aerobic exercise to yoga, releases endorphins and should be part of your family’s stress management plan. 

  • Yoga for Kids or fun and simple stretches for kids 
  • Lincoln Center at Home brings dancers, visual artists and other performers into your living room. Programming ranges from hip hop dance lessons to puppetry workshops to flipbook-making. 
  • Put on some music and have a dance party. 


Expressing thoughts and feelings through the arts can provide an outlet for emotions: paint, draw, color, do a family collage, create a real or virtual photo album, sing songs, create or build something, cook with your kids and discover new recipes. 


Listening to soothing music can help relieve stress and anxiety and facilitate relaxation. 

  • Jazz at Lincoln Center has weekly online programs and family-friendly playlists. 
  • If you don’t have access to online programming, listen to a local jazz radio station or classical music or one such as New York Public Radio WQXR 
  • Central New York’s only classical music station provides listeners with live, locally hosted classical music programs. The station also features concerts from around the world six nights per week, opera from the Metropolitan Opera and other companies on Saturdays, archival programs of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra and specialty programs including Broadway, Italian American music, jazz and bluegrass. 
  • The Shows Must Go On! Andrew Lloyd Webber will be releasing a full-length, smash-hit musical once a week for you to watch for free! You can watch every weekend. 


Read together or listen to some stories. Reading or listening to a story can force us away from the news and our digital devices and help with distraction and help us escape. Reading or listening to a story can help us relax and reduce stress. 

  • LeVar Burton reads Mondays at noon. Kids of all ages (perhaps over lunch) can tune in to the read-aloud expert, who has devoted decades of his career to fostering literacy. On Wednesdays at 6 p.m., Burton is offering a session for teens. There’s even a "For Adults" reading on Fridays at 9 p.m. 
  • Laurie Berkner is hosting a morning Berkner Break on Facebook with singing stories and dancing. 
  • Debbie Ohi collects all sorts of content, from art activities to read-alouds, on her YouTube Channel. 
  • Shelf Stuff by Harpers Collins Publishers offers Young Adult content, including author discussions, audiobooks and jokes. 
  • Sir Patrick Stewart reads Shakespeare sonnets.   
  • Imagination Library features Good Night with Dolly Parton


Meditation is a proven tool to reduce stress and anxiety. It can involve a formal practice — like when you sit down, close your eyes, and focus on feeling your breath go in and out. As a family, take deep breaths or go for a walk to bring stress levels down. If things start to feel overwhelming, there are many breathing exercises and meditation apps to try.


Laughing can help uscope with stress, shift our perceptions and help us relax. Laughter releases endorphins that counter the effect of stress hormones.