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COVID-19 Stress - a Normal Response to Pandemic

Published on Jun 26, 2020   -  6 min read

Abstract

Abstract

Dealing with pandemic stress? Read the article to know about COVID-19 stress and its management.

COVID-19 Stress - a Normal Response to Pandemic

The fear of being in contact with the virus, of the family becoming sickened, and stress or anxiety related to isolation and quarantine measures. The fear of longer-term impacts of global disruption. Are you having doubts about yourself and the situation? When the pandemic started, nobody was able to think straight, but once it has been acknowledged, it is evident that it is affecting us physically and mostly mentally. It is normal to feel sad, stressed, scared, frustrated, and angry in the time of crisis. At this time, it is important to know how to cope with the situation.

Stress:

Although stress is a healthy and natural part of human life, a positive mental attitude is simply a positive response to stress. You cannot avoid stress, but you can always manage it to move forward and lead a productive and happy life. Coronavirus can stir up all sorts of feelings like fear, anxiety, or stress. A little stress can be helpful as it can be the motivator that keeps us self-isolated and to follow hand hygiene. But constant high levels of stress can negatively affect your physical and mental health.

Stress Affects Our:

  1. Thinking.

  2. Emotions.

  3. Body.

  4. Behavior.

Stressors:

Those situations that increase our stress are called stressors. Anything that poses a challenge or a threat to our well-being is a stressor. It can be-

The current stress that the COVID-19 outbreak has brought seems unavoidable. But one can learn to lessen its impact on our life.

Anxiety:

Excessive worrying, feeling wound-up, tension or restlessness, and difficulty controlling thoughts and feelings makes a person anxious. Having anxiety does not mean you have a disorder. Most people can be anxious about something from time to time, and it is how you can cope with the anxiety that makes all of the difference.

What Is It About COVID-19 That Is So Stressful and Anxiety Provoking?

It affects everyone. It is really important to understand that very few situations that ever affect every single person directly, so it is quite an extraordinary situation that is quite shocking for everyone in a sense. And what makes it difficult is that it can be challenging to escape from it because everyone is talking about it and has an opinion about it. As it affects everyone, it can be quite useful because there is solidarity or a sense that we are all in this together. So it means that there is a significant increase in worldwide stress and anxiety.

Anxiety can be caught when we observe someone else who is stressed or anxious. Our brain will actually light up, and the anxiety enters, and so immediately, we, even without noticing, can have an anxiety response in ourselves. Most people are collectively stressed or anxious that we are not usually, and that can have great impacts on everyone around us.

Tolerance of uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us a lot of uncertainty, and humans generally feel really uncomfortable. With uncertainty, we are not in control, and we do not know what is happening surrounding us.

Information overload. The information around us continually gets updated and revised, and a vast amount of information from a lot of different sources is being flooded around us on a daily basis. As of the current scenario, the situation is getting worse, and it is really hard not to watch a daily report and see numbers of cases and not see it as bad news. Everybody certainly is feeling a heightened sense of alertness and an awareness of their stress. It is evident that it is not just your physical health that is the concern with the COVID-19, all the stress and anxiety and all that information you are getting 24 hours a day have a huge impact on your mental health.

What Might You Notice?

Poorly managed stress can lead to:

However, well-managed stress can lead to increased wellness, energy, and physical comfort.

People will be experiencing grief and loss about the COVID-19 pandemic for some time to come. In each one of our lives, there are dark events that chronicle the passage of time. So, the stress can not be avoided, especially now, so managing it well is one way to live better and healthier.

What Are the Best Things to Manage Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19 Pandemic?

When you are experiencing a lot of stress, just work on the most important tasks for improving your life, and for that, you can use various tools.

1) Maintaining Well-Being -

  1. Focus on what you can.

  2. Calming techniques.

  3. Staying informed.

  4. Professional support.

  5. Do not use the crisis as an excuse to stray from healthy lifestyles.

  6. Resist the urge to use alcohol or other substances as a stress management tool.

In this time of the pandemic, an unprecedented situation, it is imperative to focus on the complete well-being of one's self.

2) A Social Rhythm - It helps regulate our mood, provide daily stability, and a strong foundation for dealing with stressors. Start with creating a daily routine for yourself. You should plan every aspect of your day and plan your activities like time to prepare food, exercise, sleep, and other important things, especially if you are going through a difficult time in your life. Having a plan for the day will make you feel more in control. You will not have to think about or make a decision about what to do next. (Tip - Become an expert in time management. It will reduce your stress levels enormously, breaking down every task, and activity in your day or week will make the big picture a lot less intimidating.)

3) Eat and Do Not Cheat - The simplest way to ease the stress and anxiety is by eating, which helps in feeling better, and of course, a good balanced diet ultimately produces a healthy body and mind. However, food can be one tool to deal with stress, and it is not that you never want to eat when you are stressed. You just want to make sure that you have more than one tool, so one must not always just go for eating to deal with the stress (Tip - Try reducing sugar and caffeine, which can cause energy and mood slumps.)

4) Exercise Daily With Mindfulness - It can be very beneficial as it releases endotoxins, which can improve the mood. You can set up at least one cardio exercise session daily routine and body scan mindfulness exercise, a process of paying light to your thoughts. It is a central element to present in the current moment and practice nonjudgmental acceptance of internal stimuli. (Tip - If possible, get fresh air. Sit quietly for 5 to 30 minutes, focusing on your breathing, and let go of thoughts.)

5) Breathe Out and Relax - Breathing out for longer than you breathe in can help reduce anxiety. You can try techniques such as box breathing, which is easy and can be done. Having anxiety does not mean you have a disorder anywhere. Concentrating and controlling breathing is a scientifically-backed way of making you feel calm. Yoga and meditation can immensely help or engage in any physical activity or try a new hobby. Have a warm bath to relax. (Tip - Try breathing in for 4 seconds and breathing out for 8 seconds.)

6) Be Mindful of the Things You Say to Yourself About Yourself - Give yourself the same kind of grace you offer others. So often, we focus on the things we cannot control and neglect stuff we can influence.

7) Calming Thoughts and Imagination - A gentle approach that allows us to use our imagination to facilitate change and promote physical and mental health can bring increased relaxation. (Tip - Have a positive outlook and be creative.)

8) Sleep Well - Get more rest as a body well taken care of will serve you much better in the long run and reduce your stress naturally, if you are planning your day correctly, then preparing for more sleep should not be a problem. Aim for a regular bedtime. (Tip - Keeping technology out of the bedroom can help.)

9) Talk Out (Thoughts That Hurt, Thoughts That Heal) - Thoughts and beliefs can increase or decrease stress, with the awareness of our thoughts and willingness to change the critical self-talk, we can actually learn to be kinder to ourselves and make it just a little easier. Find someone you like or trust and respect and talk to them about the situation you are experiencing and ask for advice as sometimes talking about the issues out loud helps reduce the anxiety and stress you are feeling. (Tip - Contact through email or phone with family and friends. If in case you do not feel like contacting a known person, contact a counselor.)

10) Avoid All the Triggers - Do not use smoking or alcohol or other drugs that deal with your emotions, if you feel overwhelmed talk to a health worker or counselor. Be mindful of how you spend your time and who you spend it with as toxic people and situations are more harmful during crises. Do not completely withdraw from friends, family, and activities. (Tip - Be realistic about what you can accomplish in an hour or a day.)

11) Your Time Matters - Limit your exposure to social media and a 24-hour news cycle. If you find the combination of the audio-visual medium too evocative, read or listen to the news and avoid video in order to get the facts and gather the information so that you can take reasonable precautions. (Tip - Find 1 or 2 incredible sources and stick to it.)

But mostly, draw on the skills you have used in the past that helped you manage previous life adversities and skills to help you. Manage the challenging time of this outbreak.

 

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Last reviewed at:
26 Jun 2020  -  6 min read

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Dr. Malvika Rao

Dr. Malvika Rao

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