Stress has always been a mental health issue way before now, and whether it is acute or chronic, it is a feeling that upsets the blissful balance of their mental state. MedlinePlus, an online information service anchored by the United States Library of Medicine, says that stress is caused by an “existing stress-causing factor or stressor.” MedlinePlus differentiates between acute or chronic stress. Chronic stress is the focus of this article, as acute stress is the more temporary and short-termed of the two, and thus not always a health issue. According to MedlinePlus, victims of chronic stress stand the risk of falling into health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, et al. Chronic stress also worsens the health of those with an existing health condition.
There are many stress-causing factors, and they vary from person to person due to differences in personality. However, the coronavirus pandemic is a major stressor that cuts across differing personalities, creating massive unrest or stress. It is not farfetched to say that certain people stand the risk of falling to illnesses caused by pandemic-related stress than to the actual pandemic itself. In recognition of this factor, a child psychologist with John Hopkins Medicine, Joseph McGuire, gives tips in an article published on the Hopkins Medicine website to manage stress during this period. One of which is to prepare oneself against the virus rather than panic, by getting very credible information regarding the virus from trusted sources. Overly bloated facts can cause the mind to work, bringing up so many outlandish conjectures that would only put the mind under stress. This can be alleviated by knowing the right information, accepting it, and using it judiciously towards prevention.
McGuire does not only focus on the mental health of adults, he includes children too, as issues of mental health are not limited to any certain age demographic. To this, he says, “It’s important to validate feelings of worry and not dismiss them outright.” Advising your children, and providing them with the right information goes a long way in alleviating their stress.
The Center for Disease Control says about pandemic-related stress that:
“Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety.” But these actions are necessary to reduce the contraction of the virus.
How Can You Manage Stress?
In acknowledgment of this fact, the CDC issues ways to help manage the stress that may arise during this pandemic. They encourage everyone undergoing stress to seek expert help. To this effect, they give out contacts which people can reach out to for help. The CDC also lists out ways to help in the management of stress. Some of them are:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
- Take care of your body, which includes having good sleep, a good diet, regular exercise, and the avoidance of excessive alcohol or drug use.
- Put more time into your hobbies.
- Connect with others; while obeying the prevention protocols of course.
Preventing infection from the coronavirus during these times is important, but so is your mental health. Make sure you stay healthy!