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ESD Counselors Share 15 Ways to Ease Anxiety During Distance Learning

During this ever-changing new reality that we are all navigating together, it can be easy to feel anxious or overwhelmed. Hear from our Emotional Wellness Counselors Maricela Aquino (MS), Cara Holmes (LS), Amanda Sherman (MS), and Merredith Stuelpe (US) on how to best tackle this journey from an emotional, mental, and physical perspective.

  • Take care of your body. This can be through regular exercise, eating well-balanced meals, getting enough sleep (while trying to avoid sleeping too much), and deep breathing or meditation.
  • Enjoy the time at home with loved ones. Take walks together, play games, plan a movie night, video chat with family members that are out of town or are not with you in quarantine.
  • Get creative with video calls - there are plenty of ways to play virtual games in real time with one another or stream movies/TV shows together. Try to do an activity together even if you are physically separated!
  • Find some healthy distractions and engage in them for set amounts of time: reading an engaging book for 30 minutes, watch a favorite movie that gives you comfort, watch an episode (or several!) of an enjoyable TV show, listen to a silly podcast, try a new activity (cooking, gardening), etc. Give your brain some time to escape and recharge!
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news (including social media). Try to have conversations with friends and family that are not just about the pandemic.


  • Have a clear understanding of your schedule for the day. It might be helpful to reference each class on Schoology BEFORE you begin (or even the night before) so you know what to expect. You can use your written daily planner, a whiteboard, or a Google Doc like this one.
  • Establish a good learning environment at your home. You want to have enough privacy to focus with minimal distractions, but you also want to be comfortable. For those who need to move around a little more, consider a rolling chair or exercise ball chair. Your workspace should be reserved for work, so your bed is not a good place for eLearning.
  • Communicate with your teachers/advisors! Teachers are building in ways of checking for understanding, but if you are lost, you need to ask questions. We are all here to help you, especially through this phase!
  • Get digitally organized. Create shortcuts on your Chrome browser for your most commonly visited pages. Properly name documents on your Drive so that they are searchable, or use files to keep them organized (maybe by subject). Close tabs that are no longer useful. Use multiple windows if needed. Disable distracting pop-ups.
  • Establish and stick to your routine. This will help you complete work on time, but also will enable you to find the right balance between screen time, other activities, and sleep.


  • Remind your children that feeling stress during an unexpected and rapidly changing time such as this is NORMAL and healthy! We would be concerned if they weren’t feeling a little uneasy. It will take time to adapt to our new circumstance. You can reassure them and empathize with what they are experiencing.
  • Encourage your children to keep a journal or jot down notes on how they are feeling from day to day. They will look back on this at some point and be amazed with how they got through this experience!
  • No one is perfect-you are managing this the best that you can. Try not to compare yourself and your parenting during this time to anyone else. It is easy to scroll through Instagram, look at all the “fun, family, togetherness” people are posting, and question why your experience does not look that way. Most people are only posting their best moments...not the hard, ugly ones.
  • Try to model healthy coping strategies to cope with the uncertainty and stress. Let them see you making a schedule, engaging in new activities like meditation, yoga, or painting, or going outside for a walk.
  • Start a Gratitude List and post it in a central location. Family members can add to it daily and see what others have contributed.


We hope that you and your family find these tips helpful as we continue to walk this path together. If you have any questions, or need additional support, our Emotional Wellness team is here to help.

Maricela Aquino, LMSW
Middle School Emotional Wellness Counselor

Cara Holmes, Ph.D.
Lower School Emotional Wellness Counselor and Learning Specialist

Amanda Sherman, LPC
Middle School Emotional Wellness Counselor

Merredith Stuelpe, LCSW-S
Upper School Emotional Wellness Counselor