How To Cope With Pandemic Stress

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Written and Medically Reviewed by Dr Benjamin George, MBBch, BAO, LRCP & SI, FRCS, AM, ISAPS, CMTP. Updated as of October 10, 2021.

How To Cope With Pandemic Stress

Covid-19 & Stress

Since March 2020, the COVID-19, which is now a global pandemic that seemingly has no end, has certainly had a major effect on each of our lives.

The uncertainty caused by not knowing has left many of us facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions. both in adults and children.

To make matters more complex, public health actions to combat Covid-19, such as social distancing, while necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, causes us to be isolated thus affecting our usual activities, routines, or livelihoods, and as a result, make us feel lonely, which can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make us, the people we care about, and those around us become more resilient as we continue to live through Covid-19.

Stress can cause the following:

  • Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration

  • Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests

  • Difficulty concentrating and making decisions

  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares

  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes

  • Worsening of chronic health problems

  • Worsening of mental health conditions

  • Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances

If you’re feeling stress, you’re not the only one. During the pandemic, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, a share that has been largely consistent. It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress.

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Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple of times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.

  • Take care of your body.

    • Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate on a regular basis to restructure your mind and body;

    • Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals to ensure your body stays healthy;

    • Exercise regularly, whether indoors or outdoors;

    • Get enough sleep to allow your mind to rest;

    • Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use;

    • Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare professional;

  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy like playing board games, having family dinners, etc.

  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

  • Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.

Helping Others Cope

Taking care of yourself can better equip you to take care of others. During times of social distancing, it is especially important to stay connected with your friends and family. Helping others cope with stress through phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely or isolated.

I’m experiencing a mental health crisis

  • If you are struggling to cope, there are many ways to get help. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

  • During times of extreme stress, people may have thoughts of suicide. Suicide is preventable and help is available. Call the Health Ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) hotline at +603-2935-9935

  • Get connected with a certified, trained counsellor in your area.

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