Dear Carolyn,

I hope we are finally getting a handle on the pandemic, but I have developed high blood pressure during the pandemic. My whole family is tense, and there are more angry outbursts than pre-pandemic. I want the old normal for my family. My sleep is interrupted more than before. I think about the same things over and over and over. I am fearful my family will break up. What are your suggestions, Carolyn? I read your column regularly.


Carolyn Answers,

This fact pattern sounds like you, and perhaps your whole family, has anxious psychological issues that may benefit from counseling with a psychologist. See a medical doctor for high blood pressure. Approximately 44 million Americans are suffering from some level of anxiety. Recurrent thoughts are called rumination.

Here are six suggestions: 1) If the recurrent thoughts have a positive side, try to use the positive side to set goals. 2) Write down your thoughts, which may get the thoughts out of your head. 3) Find a positive narrative out of the thoughts. The negative outbursts toward you in the family likely have nothing to do with you. 4) The problem as a whole may look insurmountable, but it may be manageable if you break it down into tiny parts. 5) Rehearse your relaxation procedure before bed. Perhaps take a hot both and drink some sleepy time tea, such as Yogi. 6) Finally, be kind to yourself. Don’t judge yourself. Be positive about your self-image.

Engage your family with these steps after you practice them yourself. The pandemic has been stressful for most in America, if not in the world. It is our job to decide if we want to come out of it stronger or weaker.



Send your questions on family law and divorce matters to “Ask Carolyn…” at, or P.O. Box 9023, Greensboro, NC  27427.  Please do not put identifying information in your questions.  Note that the answers in “Ask Carolyn” are intended to provide general legal information, and the answers are not specific legal advice for your situation.  The column also uses hypothetical questions.  A subtle fact in your unique case may determine the legal advice you need in your individual case.  Also, please note that you are not creating an attorney-client relationship with Carolyn J. Woodruff by writing or having your question answered by “Ask Carolyn…”  “Ask Carolyn…” will be a regular column, but not necessarily weekly.