Confronting Stress & Anxiety: Mental Health Techniques for Design Educators

Along with the rest of the world, many design educators are trying to manage our professional and personal obligations while being consumed by feelings of fear, anxiety, and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As we are overwhelmed by endless news cycles and social media chatter, it’s become increasingly difficult to escape the spiral of emotions challenging our mental health. In times like this, it’s important to look for resources that offer coping techniques and allow us to make informed decisions surrounding our health and well-being.


In a conversation with Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Ebonee Lyle, she explains that symptoms of anxiety may include the following: 

  • Restlessness
  • Constant worry
  • Racing thoughts
  • Inability to concentrate

“People respond to stressful life situations in various ways. Anxiety could be one of these responses. Generally speaking, when these symptoms cause a persistent disruption to your day-to-day functioning, it’s important to reach out to a mental health professional.”

-Ebonee Lyle, LCSW


“You may feel a sense of loss, as routines are severely interrupted, and celebrations/gatherings are cancelled. Kindness towards yourself, and others, is key to maintaining our collective health.”

-U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “Self-Care Strategies During the COVID-19 Response”

Published by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the following are Self-Care Strategies During the Covid-19 Response:

  1. Pause. This is an incredibly challenging time. You’re doing the best you can.
  2. Breathe. Inhale for 5, Hold for 3, Exhale for 5.
  3. Find a work buddy, and check-in daily.
  4. Exercise daily, even if just for a few minutes.
  5. Practice healthy sleeping habits, as best as you can given the circumstances.
  6. Practice healthy eating habits, as best as you can give the circumstances.
  7. Communicate your concerns and needs.
  8. Look into various apps, for additional support and social connection.
  9. Be kind to others, and yourself. These are trying times for everyone.

See the full list here.

Managing Stress

Uncertainty and concern about catching an infectious disease, and protecting oneself and one’s family, can increase feelings of stress. There are effective ways for individuals and families to manage stress and concern: 

-Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress, “Taking Care of Your Family During Coronavirus and Other Emerging Infectious Disease Outbreaks”

The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress offers these tips:

  • Stay up-to-date about developments related to the infectious disease outbreak by using a reliable and accurate source of health-related information, such as the CDC or the Red Cross. 
  • Focus on positive aspects of your life and things that you can control. 
  • If you or a family member is feeling overwhelmed, seek support from your health care provider or religious leader. 

See the full list, and other useful tips here.

As designers, many of us are scrambling to find ways to lend our skills and knowledge for advocacy, and as educators, we find ourselves navigating new territories, often bending ourselves into roles of Counselor and friend to our students. While these things are important and contribute to our sense of purpose, we should know that it’s ok to not be ok. If somewhere between all the zoom calls, grading, recorded lectures, and home life, we find ourselves stressed and anxious, the DEC wants you to know that you are not in this alone. You have a community.

Additional Resources:

By aigaeducators
Published April 8, 2020
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