Global Pandemics are Stressful!
The outbreak of COVID-19 has caused significant stress for many people across the world. Anxiety and fear of the unknown are prevalent, and the shifts in news coverage and fact finding about the disease change on a daily basis. This type of stress, fear, and anxiety can be very overwhelming for both adults and children. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.
Stress during these difficult times can include:
- Worry about your health and the health of others.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Trouble concentrating or sleeping.
- Chronic health problems may be exasperated.
- Chronic mental health problems may be exasperated.
- Increased use or abuse of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs.
We all react differently to stressful situations
How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in. Your response to the outbreak is likely similar to many others across the world, but your individual response is likely different given your unique background and the community/culture you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
- Those who fall in high risk categories for severe illness, such as older individuals and people with chronic disease.
- Children and teens-they may struggle to feel that have any sense of control over what is happening in their environment.
- Front line workers, health care providers, and critical business staff.
- Individuals that struggle with mental health and addiction.
Focus on Self-Care and supporting your community
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Self-care is one of the most important things you can do during these times. By taking care of yourself, you increase your capacity to cope with stress and to care for family and loved ones. Helping yourself and your family will also strengthen the community.
Tips for coping with stress:
- Take a break from social media and forms of media that expose you to reporting about COVID. I am not recommending that you become uninformed of the state of affairs in your community; however, checking the news and media outlets multiple times per day can add to the feelings mentioned above.
- Focus on your body
- Engage in deep breathing exercises
- Try to eat healthy, a body that feels good physically can help you feel better mentally.
- Exercise and set aside enough time for sleep. Exercise and sleep are two big factors that can improve your mental health.
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs. A glass of wine at dinner won’t harm your health, but excessive drinking and use of drugs will negatively impact your ability to cope with stress.
- Take time to relax. Do at least one activity per day that you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Reach out to family and friends to increase your sense of connectiveness and support for each other.