Dr. Athena Brasfield

The hardest thing I had to do

With the Covid-19 pandemic now surging with over 340,000 worldwide cases and 1,400 cases and growing in California, I decided last week to temporary shut down two of my optometry practices in Southern California.  March 19th was our last day in business for what I fear will be 3 months or longer in hopes of minimizing the spread of the virus and keep my patients and staff safe.

The following morning after my staff was sent home, I woke up in tears and realized it wasn’t just a nightmare!   Last week I had to lay off 40 staff members and 6 doctors who have been serving our patient’s at Coachella Valley Optometry.   By far this experience has been the most emotional and saddest day in my life as an entrepreneur.

This COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful and incredibly frightening experience for all of us.  As a business owner, mother and wife, I wanted to write some quick words of encouragement for all of those out there who have been affected by this terrible pandemic.  Fear and anxiety about economic situations and disease can be very overwhelming and cause strong negative emotions in adults and children, particularly during uncertain times.  This is why, taking care of your mental health is crucial.

According to the CDC, many people respond to the COVID-19 outbreak differently.  Some people who may respond strongly to the stress of the crisis include:


  • Elderly and those with chronic diseases who are at greater risk for COVID-19
  • Health care providers such as doctors, health care workers and first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including issues with substance abuse
  • Children and teens


The stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic can cause fear and worry about your own health and for the health of loved ones.  Stress can also cause a drastic change in eating patters, difficulty sleeping and concentrating, worsening of chronic conditions and an increase of alcohol or drug usage.

How should you manage stress and anxiety during COVID-19?


First and foremost, it starts with understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about.  Make sure that you get your information from reputable news stations or directly from the CDC.

Besides learning more about the outbreak, it is very important that you limit social media and news.  Right now if you scroll through Facebook or any social media channel, it is impossible to not see “click bait” about COVID-19.  Many of what you see are just memes or false information.  The constant bombardment of news and information can be overwhelming and upsetting for many people.  I recommend that you limit your exposure to less than 30 minutes per day.  This may be challenging as the average person spends more than 4 hours per day non social media!

So what should you do all day while sitting in quarantine? 


Do the small things that make you smile!  Develop yourself!  Taking care of your body and mind is extremely important during this difficult time.  Taking deep breaths, stretching, yoga and meditation can help ease your stress.

It also might be a great time to start working on that book you have been wanting to read or write!  As entrepreneurs, we tend to get caught up in the day to day operations of our business.  Maybe now is a great time to take the opportunity to revise or highlight your 5, 10 and 15 year goals or work on the things you have struggle finding time to work on?

Though times are difficult now, having a clear vision of the future can drastically improve your spirits and inspire you.  Focusing on the “NOW” and being creative can help you refocus on what is important for the future of your business.

Also, a healthy diet, well balanced meals, regular exercise and plenty of sleep can help ease your stress.  It might also be a great time to connect by phone, Facetime or email with an old acquaintance or network with other professionals.

Keeping your family together during COVID-19


With economic uncertainty and stress, it can be very difficult managing stress at home.  As a mom, I know first-hand how important it is to alleviate any fear for my son.

According to the CDC, when parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children.  Just like adults, some children react right away while others show stress much later.  Many children tend to deal with stressful situations by acting out, crying, teasing and showing poor behavior.

If you sense your child is acting out or feeling stressed and overwhelmed by the coronavirus pandemic, I recommend supporting them by:


  • Limiting your family’s exposure to news coverage
  • Keeping up with regular routines.  If schools are closed, schedule in daily learning activities and relaxing or fun games.
  • Reassure them that they are safe!  Let them know that if they feel scared or worried to keep the communication open and let you know.
  • Talk to your child or teen about COVID-19, the risks and facts about the disease.
  • Lead by example!  Be a role model for your child.  You can do this by getting regular sleep, exercising, eating healthy and avoiding excessive alcohol use.
  • Daily communication with family members!  I know that many of us are quarantined, but staying in communication with your loved ones via Skype, Facetime are a great way to safely keep in contact with loved ones and help your little ones eliminate any stress.


If you are a business owner like myself, scheduling weekly conferences or calls with your employees and staff can help keep them updated and eliminate stress by putting them at ease.



The COVID-19 outbreak is something we are all stressed about but I know it is something we are definitely going to make it through!  I encourage everyone to please manage your stress  using these techniques and to continue to work on personal goals.  I am thinking of all of you and hoping that you are all staying safe!  Be strong and just know that WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS!  Also, thank you to all of my amazing  staff members for your constant support, understanding and dedication during this outbreak.  Thinking of you!

I would like to close this with this quote:


“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”




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