There are many recent events that have upset our world, along with the social distancing recommendations and many who have lost their jobs because of businesses closing. Others are working from home and families are trying to establish routines for children and distance learning. There is a lot of uncertainty, in our own lives and in society. And then there is the isolation. Humans are social; we like being with others and having freedom of movement. We are averse to change, finding comfort in our routines and our normal lives. As a result, this isolation and changes are overwhelming and stressful.
Everyone responds to stress differently, but older people and those with underlying conditions which make them more susceptible, are likely to respond more strongly to the situation. Children also have stronger adverse reactions to stress, as they do not always understand the implications of what is going on and may start to exhibit behavioral changes.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), signs of stress can include:
- changes in sleeping or eating patterns
- difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- worsening chronic health problems
- increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
- and increased fear or worry about your health and the health of your loved ones.
Additionally, children may show stress in other ways. They may cry more often or even return to behaviors they have outgrown (like wetting the bed), the CDC explains. Older kids may be more irritable. Teenagers may be more aggressive or “act out” more. You should watch for unexplained aches and pains. Everyone should be aware of these signs, especially in older and younger family members. Fortunately, the CDC has some recommendations for how to deal with increased stress.
Tips on Managing the Stress
Check out our other post about managing stress here: How to Handle Stress as a Temporary Employee
First, it should come as no surprise, they say do not obsess about news. “Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting,” the CDC says. Take breaks from the news, including social media where a lot of misinformation is spread. You can set aside a specific time to catch up on the latest developments, and limit how much time you will devote to doing so. If you have children in the house and they watch the news with you, be sure to speak with them about what you have seen and reassure them of the steps you are taking to keep them safe.
Second, take care of yourself. Whether you are working from home or you are out of work and binge watching your favorite show, be sure to take breaks to stretch, exercise, eat regular meals and choose healthy options. This is especially critical if you have children in the home who are used to a regular school routine. Try to stay as close to that schedule as you can, including time for recess or gym.
Third, make time to relax. This could be a hobby that you enjoy, a walk around the block, visiting the park, binging some comforting tv shows or movies, or playing games with your family.
Lastly, be sure to connect with others as you can. Do not just text your friends, call them and speak to them. It is okay to share your concerns and how you are feeling; you will likely find they feel the same way. If you are feeling like you do not know where to turn or what to do about your stress, or you are turning more often to alcohol or drugs, ask for help. You might just need to ask a friend what they would do or how they have handled an issue. Sometimes, just a “reality check” that you are not crazy is all that is needed. Even if you do not do exactly what they say, you have helped yourself look at the situation differently by having another perspective.
But if that does not work, there are numerous community resources. If you, a friend, or a family member seems to be handling it worse than others and starts exhibiting signs of depression and anxiety, you can call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746, (TTY 1-800-846-8517) or find additional help at https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment.
And when you, or your family, need a break:
- These Zoo Live Cams Let You Hang Out With Pandas, Giraffes, and Other Adorable Animals All Day Long
- Museums Around the World Are Sharing Their Most Zen Art on Social Media to Help People Relax
- If none of these pique your interest, there is always the Baby Goat livestream from this 219-year-old Beekman Farm in Sharon Springs, New York.
And if you are ready to get back into the job market, we can help you prepare for that nerve-racking interview!