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Stay-at-home orders have been particularly hard on moms

Surveys suggest that COVID-19 is creating stress and other mental health issues

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A recent report by the Census Bureau finds members of U.S. households are suffering increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

The series of surveys began as a way to track a range of effects on households, including financial, educational, physical, and mental impacts. Last week’s survey found that a third of respondents are beginning to show signs of clinical anxiety or depression, agency officials said.

The Census Bureau survey showed young adults appear to be most affected. Within households, a second survey shows mothers appear to be bearing the brunt of the stress. 

Increased workloads

The survey conducted by Malt-O-Meal, a brand of ready-to-eat cereals, found that 95 percent of moms said they are multitasking for an average of almost eight hours a day. That may be because workloads have increased for most women with children living at home. More than half -- 55 percent -- say they are working longer hours, and 89 percent of those moms say it’s taking a toll on their well-being. 

More than three in five report feeling increased stress levels. Forty-eight percent describe themselves as more anxious; 46 percent say they spend more time worrying; 27 percent are increasingly sad; and 26 percent say they more easily lose their temper.

With stay-at-home orders keeping kids out of schools and parents out of stores and offices, the household is populated 24/7. Women responding to the survey say they are spending time on their children’s education and keeping them entertained. In the meantime, they are trying to fulfill their own full-time work responsibilities.

Not much ‘me time’

Nearly a third of respondents said they only have one hour a day for self-care, while more than 1 in 8 moms say that they have no “me time” at all. When stress levels reach the breaking point, moms say they have a range of ways they decompress:

  • 60 percent binge-watch TV and movies

  • 43 percent eat

  • 38 percent exercise

  • 35 percent sleep

  • 35 percent bake

  • 24 percent drink

  • 24 percent work on crafts

"It's clear that moms are burnt out and in need of a much-deserved break," said Jessica Wobschall, Senior Brand Manager of Malt-O-Meal and mother of two with another on the way. 

"As a brand that has been there for moms for over 100 years, we wanted our survey to draw attention to the job of being a mom, which for many has expanded significantly right now, and find some way to provide a little relief."

In the last few weeks, ConsumerAffairs has compiled a series of ideas for diversions and stress-relievers while stuck at home. They include 5 ways to disconnect and unplug; 5 live feed websites; 4 art projects to try at home; and ways to brew better coffee at home.

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