Moment by Moment: Taking Care of Ourselves during a Crisis

March 19, 2020

Our Executive Director, Suzanne Buchanan, Psy.D., BCBA-D is frequently called on to counsel families dealing with behavior crises and has presented workshops on mindfulness and the importance of self-care for caregivers for decades. Here she offers some resources and basic tips to help cope during these stressful times.


Unprecedented. Unsettling. Terrifying. These words have been used repeatedly since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. Autism New Jersey knows there are even greater concerns for your loved ones with autism.

There is so much to worry about and so much to do. It is truly overwhelming. And, who’s taking care of the caregiver? You already know this answer: You have to take care of yourself.

But how can you take care of yourself when you don’t have the time or the emotional fortitude at the very moments when you need them the most?

Take it moment by moment.

“Life is a series of moments. The quality of attention and action that we bring to each moment determines the quality of our lives.”

— Dan Millman

Paying attention to these moments is at the core of mindfulness and can help you cope during these difficult times.

There are many types of moments.

  • Caregiving moments
  • Overwhelmed, sad, worried, and scared moments
  • Irritated and angry moments
  • Getting pulled in 10 different directions moments
  • Learning moments
  • Planning moments
  • Connecting moments
  • Calming moments
  • Joyful moments

In each of these moments, you can kindly notice where your attention is. Is your attention in your mind? In your expectations? In your physical sensations? In a moment from the past? In a moment in the future? In the present?

If you can hold your attention on this moment (whatever it may be), see if you can respond to it as you would to a good friend. With kind attention. With compassion for your suffering. With a nonjudgmental acknowledgement of your experience. With a cautious optimism that things will get better. With a celebration of all that is still right in the world.

Noticing and kindly responding to our experience of each moment can increase our awareness. It gives us the precious opportunity to approach more moments with validation, centeredness, and clarity to make the best of this one and the next one.

To learn more about mindful awareness during this pandemic, check out Meditation and Coronavirus by Dr. Jay Michaelson.

To experience a guided meditation, check out these free resources:


Experience Our Power of Connection

Autism New Jersey is following recommendations from the CDC and state Department of Health and is implementing telework and remote meetings for its employees to help reduce the community spread of the coronavirus.

During this time, our 800.4.AUTISM Helpline will remain open. Please leave a message with specific dates and times you are available for a call-back, or email information@autismnj.org.  You can also message us via our website, and we’ll aim to reply promptly.

We remain focused on our mission to be a resource for the autism community. With a fluid situation and great uncertainty, we’ll share relevant, accurate information as it becomes available. We encourage you to regularly visit our central hub of coronavirus resources for the autism community.