The pandemic has prompted drastic changes in our daily lives. With lockdowns being imposed across countries, everything from school to work has been relocated to our homes. Residences have begun to consume more energy to power up computers, smartphones, and other digital devices daily for various tasks.
Aside from the increased individual energy consumption, stress and anxiety also hit an all-time high. Increasing reports of COVID-related deaths and infections have wormed their way into our daily routine. The deadly spread of the virus and the recent news on the Delta variant—things keep piling up, and normalcy has taken on a new meaning.
Moreover, the sudden blurring of the boundaries between work and rest add to the confusion. Our homes are now our offices, gyms, meeting rooms, conference halls, and many other functions. All these places have converged into one location, causing us to feel stressed and lost.
What Is Stress?
Stress is defined as “the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure (Mental Health Foundation, 2021).” The uncertainty brought by the sudden changes in our lifestyles and the urgent need to adjust to this remote setup for everything can affect our mental health. Working and interacting through a screen can make us feel detached and alone.
Students and teachers alike have expressed how the digital setup is not conducive for learning as well. In fact, it’s been the primary source of stress for many students. The forced digital learning setup doesn’t really allow them to grow, experience, and learn in the same way physical classes would.
Working professionals also relayed that working from home has led to burnout. The blurred boundaries have made it challenging to discern work from rest, significantly impacting workers’ mental health. The same can be said for students who struggle to balance their studies, leisure, and chores in the confines of their homes.
Although there are some cases where stress can help us grow, too much of something is still dangerous. Excessive stress can have adverse effects on a person’s health, both physically and mentally.
What Are The Effects Of Excessive Stress?
- Sleeping Difficulties
Chronic stress can lead to an abundance of cortisol in the body. Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, is responsible for our body’s fight or flight response to stressful situations. Excessive levels of cortisol in the body cause disruptive sleep patterns.
- Concentration Issues
When you’re stressed, different parts of your brain, like the amygdala, hypothalamus, and adrenal glands, send signals and react by releasing adrenaline into your bloodstream. Adrenaline can be good, but high levels of it can cause difficulties in focusing on tasks.
- Physical Manifestations
Stress can manifest in your body in different ways. For some people, being under constant or extreme stress leads to headaches. While for others, stress manifests physically through stomach problems and body pains.
- Feelings Of Anger, Frustration, And Irritability
Stressed people are also prone to be easily angered or irritated. The overstimulation caused by stressors in a certain environment or situation can sometimes lead to feeling cranky and frustrated.
How Can You Manage Stress During A Pandemic?
Feelings of stress during this pandemic are inevitable. Stress might have some negative effects on a person, but it is also manageable.
Through some research or consultations with a therapist, you will learn various ways to cope with daily stress. Taking time to be mindful and practice these things can help you have a healthier, stress-free mind and body. Here are some ways to manage and cope with stress, according to therapists.
- Take care of your body.
It sounds simple and obvious, but it’s something we often take for granted. Taking care of our bodies and keeping them healthy is crucial, especially in a pandemic where our immune system is our first line of defense. Exercising regularly, even for a short time, is extremely helpful in keeping our bodies healthy. We should also practice eating balanced, nutritious meals and getting enough rest and sleep.
Another thing that can help manage stress is doing stretches and meditating. These practices may prove especially helpful, now that we are all stuck at home and constantly working on our computers. Taking a break from work to stretch and taking deep breaths may seem trivial, but it will allow you to manage your stress better and stay healthy.
- Take a break from watching the news.
While staying updated with current news and events about the pandemic is important, it’s okay to turn off the television and click out of news sites once in a while. Constant exposure to news of death and sickness might cause you to get stressed and anxious. Remember to take a step back from reading or watching the news for your mental health.
- Do things you enjoy.
Being confined in our homes for an indefinite amount of time creates the perfect chance to revisit old hobbies or discover new things to try. Knitting, painting, reading, journaling, baking—whatever it may be, dedicate time to doing activities you enjoy.
- Connect with other people.
With physical interactions limited and social gatherings discouraged, we may feel isolated and lonely. It’s completely normal, too, since we are social beings, and our connections with other people serve as our support. Make use of the wonders of technology to keep in touch with your loved ones and stay connected. Just a short call or simple message can deflect some negative feelings brought by the pandemic.
COVID-19 completely blindsided us. It’s been a very challenging and frightening time for everyone. Death and disease seemingly lurk in every corner, invading our homes and taking up the news. As time goes by, the uncertainty grows, making us lose sight of the end. Lives are changed. Experiences are limited. And the way we live is completely altered.
With everything going on in the world right now, it is definitely normal to feel stressed and anxious. And with everything going digital, it’s easy to get caught up in the screens we face every day and drown in negative emotions. That’s why we should remember to take breaks from time to time and practice self-care.
Stretching, taking deep breaths, eating properly, and even the little things, such as staying hydrated and drinking water, can be helpful for us. Remember to be kind to yourself. No matter how small or trivial it may seem, you can improve your life and health.