It’s been almost 2 years that we are dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak. This pandemic has changed our lives in ways we wouldn’t have imagined before. From our health to social life and even personal life, coronavirus has impacted every aspect of our lives. But the horrible thing about this COVID-19 outbreak is the number of deaths it is causing worldwide.
As you watch the events around the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, it is understandable that you will feel stressed. The amount of news circulating related to COVID-19 is downright scary. Even if you are not infected with the virus, the events related to it can have an indirect impact on you.
Social distancing is the best way to stop the spread of this virus. But self-isolation and social distancing have resulted in increased stress and anxiety in many people. You may also have stress and fear due to worrying too much about your and your family’s health.
Being trapped inside the house months after months is never good for your mental health. No matter, how much you keep yourself busy with work or entertainment; it can still affect you in ways you wouldn’t have expected. Increased stress can affect you both mentally and physically.
If you feel stressed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We may not be able to do much, but we have some tips that can help you manage your stress. In this guide, we will cover important details that you need to know about managing stress during the coronavirus pandemic.
Groups at Higher Risks Of Stress
There are certain groups of people who are more vulnerable to COVID-19 stress. In this section, we will highlight the groups at higher risk. If you fall into any of these groups, you must pay extra attention to your mental health. During these tough times, you need to stay mentally strong to prevent and fight the outbreak.
The highest risk groups for stress include:
#1. Frontline Workers
Frontline workers are people who come in direct contact with COVID patients. This includes doctors, nurses, food workers, social workers, and police. All these people are in the high-risk category for virus infection. Naturally, they are more likely to experience stress.
Medical workers, food workers, and police officials are working endless hours to serve the people of their state and country. They are continuously exposed to the virus. All these factors automatically lead to increased stress. To cope with this kind of stressful life, they must take out some time to fix their mental health when on break. By doing so, they can be more productive in the field of work.
#2. Older People and Co-morbid Patients
As you already know the virus mainly attacks people who are co-morbid and have a weak immune system. This includes elderly as well as obese people.
Anyone with underlying medical conditions such as diabetes, chronic diseases, and a compromised immune system is vulnerable to the virus infection. This automatically puts a lot of stress on their minds. They are continuously worried about their health. People in this group should take all the steps to prevent the virus and keep themselves healthy. At the same time, they should also pay attention to their mental health.
#3. Low-income People
The COVID 19 pandemic has drastically affected the economic condition of every country. Thousands of jobs are lost and businesses have been shut down. This has put immense stress on low-income people or anyone with uncertain income or homelessness.
People who have lost their jobs during this pandemic are leading stressful lives as they don’t have any source of income. Even daily wage workers are also affected as there are no jobs available.
#4. Children and Teens
Even children and teens have been identified as high-risk groups. They are likely to get stressed as their parents navigate life during the outbreak.
#5. People in Isolation and Quarantine
Quarantine or isolation is not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people enjoy their time alone in quarantine, while others get stressed due to lack of communication.
Continuous isolation is a great source of stress for certain people. Self-isolation leads to loneliness, which then results in anxiety, depression, or stress. This may also trigger the risk of heart diseases and stroke in some people. Not just that, but it has also spiked the number of suicide cases.
Tips to Stay Calm During This COVID-19 Outbreak
Trying to keep yourself calm during the COVID-19 outbreak is the most important thing. But how are you going to do it?
We have some effective tips that might help you to maintain calm during this deadly pandemic.
#1. Practice Good Self-Care
Self-care can help you get through these tough times. It will not only help you physically but also mentally. By good self-care, we mean having a good sleep, following a routine, eating a proper diet, and exercise regularly.
Practicing self-care is mainly important for the frontline workers. When you are at home, give yourself some time and try to relax. Taking a short break for yourself is not selfish. This short break is needed to help you work more effectively. Another self-care strategy is to limit the amount of news you consume.
#2. Stay Connected with Your Loved Ones
Keeping in touch with your family and friends can help you stay in a good mood. We are not asking you to go out and meet them physically. You must maintain isolation and stay connected to them virtually.
There are plenty of social media platforms and other apps to help you stay connected with your loved ones. Talk to them whenever you feel low. If you are a part of a team, reach out to your team members and extend your support to them. Having social support is crucial to get you through these trying times.
#3. Focus on Things you Can Control
Let’s face it; you cannot have control over everything. Some things are just beyond your control and you must accept them the way they are. Much of this COVID-19 outbreak is out of our control. We are incapable of stopping or controlling this virus.
We may not be able to stop the outbreak, but we can surely prevent us from contracting it. Instead of worrying about controlling it, you must focus on how to keep yourself safe and healthy.
#4. Be Mindful of your Feelings, Thoughts, and Reactions
When we feel stressed, we tend to ignore our feelings and thoughts. However, that is not the right thing to do. Instead, you should acknowledge what’s going on in your mind and notice your reactions.
If needed, you should pen down your worries, reactions, and feelings. You should remind yourself that they are fair and normal. Don’t forget that you are not alone in this. The entire world is going through the same situation as you are.
#5. Remind Yourself That this a Temporary Situation
Even though this pandemic is going on for almost 2 years, you should remind yourself that this is only a temporary situation. It will not last forever. Even if it takes one more year, this pandemic will come to an end.
You should take good care of yourself and prevent getting infected as long as the virus is there. Think of the good times you will have when all of this comes to an end.
#6. Create a Routine for Yourself
The COVID-19 outbreak has destroyed the routine that we once followed before the start of the pandemic. For the past year, we are mostly trapped inside our houses with no social life and physical activities. This kind of lifestyle is not at all good for your health. It can have an impact on your body both physically and mentally.
This is why you are recommended to create a proper routine for yourself. Even if you are working from home, you should have a healthy routine to follow. What we mean is wake up early, exercise, enjoy your food, work, entertain yourself, meditate and do everything else that makes you happy.
#7. Know That it is Okay to be Disappointed
So you had plans to go out on a vacation or attend your best friend’s wedding. But due to COVID-19, all your plans are canceled or are postponed indefinitely. This can feel disheartening, but you need to make yourself understand that sometimes it is okay to be disappointed.
Instead of trapping your feelings inside, let yourself mourn for what you are missing. It is completely normal to express your feelings and emotions. This is what makes us human. The more you try to suppress such feelings, the more it will make you feel frustrated. So let it all out and make yourself feel light.
#8. Stay Positive
During these stressful times, you will be surrounded by negative thoughts. But you shouldn’t let these thoughts get to you. If you let that happen, it is going to make you sad and stressed. Instead of spinning negative thoughts in your mind, try to be positive. Calm your mind and focus on all the good and positive things in your life.
Around 80% of the time, we tend to focus on negative thoughts. But you need to actively change this in your mind. Having a positive mind will help you stay happy even in the toughest situations. Besides that, it will also help maintain your health.
How Stress Affects your Health?
Stress is not to be taken lightly. That’s because it affects your whole body. Too much stress can impact your health negatively. It interferes with your blood pressure and heart rate which in turn gives rise to other health problems.
#1. Deteriorates your Mental Health
Stress leads to anxiety and even depression. These are two common mood disorders caused due to stress. The hormones released during stress interfere with serotonin levels, a brain chemical that controls your mood. The change in serotonin levels is the primary cause of anxiety, depression, or other mental disorders.
#2. Affects your Heart
Stress is also known to have a bad impact on your heart and its functions. Chronic stress can lead to heart disease, increased blood pressure, and rapid heartbeats. If you are already dealing with heart problems, stress will only make it worse. Stress also causes certain blood cells to become stickier, which increases the risk of stroke and blood clots.
#3. Interferes with Your Sleep
In case, you didn’t know this but stress can also interfere with your sleep. When you are stressed, it becomes difficult for you to sleep. Not just that, but it can also lead to insomnia lasting up to three weeks or more. If left untreated, insomnia may cause other health problems such as anxiety, depression, and heart failure.
#4. Causes Skin Problems
Yes, you read that right stress can also cause skin problems. It can change the appearance of your skin. This is caused because of a chemical reaction that is triggered by stress. As a result, your skin becomes more reactive and sensitive. Not just that, but it can even aggravate skin problems such as acne, eczema, hives, rashes, and others.
#5. Can Cause Headaches
Stress released hormones that trigger changes in the blood vessels throughout your body. This in turn can cause headaches, migraines, and tension. It may also affect how you handle your headache. For instance, if you get too agitated, it may lower your pain tolerance threshold.
#6. Affects the Metabolic System of your Body
Studies have found a direct link between stress hormones and sugar and fat cravings. Cortisol, the stress hormone can negatively impact the metabolic system of your body. It causes your body to hold on to fat and thus making you fat. This can also make losing weight difficult. When you are stressed, you tend to eat more.
#7. Weakens your Immune System
Yes, stress can also weaken your body’s immune system. It can interfere with the cells that protect your body against harmful viruses, bacteria, and cancer. Based on research, people with chronic stress have fewer white blood cells. Also, they are more vulnerable to colds and other diseases. If you fall sick, stress will only make the symptoms worse.
#8. Impacts your Digestive System
Last but not the least; stress can also affect your digestive system. When you are too much stressed, you tend to feel sick to your stomach. But chronic stress can disrupt your entire digestive system. It can lead to problems such as constipation, heartburn, diarrhoea, bloating, and cramping. It can even lead to irritable bowel syndrome, a condition in which your large intestine is irritated.
💡Tips to Manage Stress
With the COVID-19 outbreak around, it is easy to get stressed these days. Keeping all the ill effects of stress in mind, we have come up with some tips that will help you to manage stress.
1. Exercise Regularly
Exercising regularly is one of the best ways to prevent stress. It helps you to relax both your mind and body. Not just that, but it will also help to improve your mood. But to get the desired results, you need to be consistent with your workout routine.
Working out for 2 hours, 4 days in a week is enough to keep you stress-free and fit. Even brisk walking or cycling is a good form of exercise. For more vigorous forms of exercise, you can go swimming, jogging or other sports.
2. Practice Deep Breathing
This is yet another great way to keep stress away. All you need to do is take a few deep breaths and it can take the pressure off you. Try it once and you will be surprised to see how much better you feel.
To practice deep breathing, first sit in a comfortable position with your feet on the floor and hands in your lap. For a more relaxed position, you can also lie down and close your eyes. Calm your mind by thinking something pleasant. Start taking slow and deep breaths. Repeat this for at least 5 to 10 minutes and you are good to go.
3. Eat Healthy
Eating healthy and following a proper diet can work wonders for your body and mind. A properly balanced diet can make you feel great in general. Besides that, it can also help control your moods.
Make sure your diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains. To get the most out of your diet, you should have all your meals. Not having a proper diet can put you in a bad mood, which in turn can increase your stress levels.
4. Do Meditation or Yoga
Meditation or yoga can help relax your mind and body. Take some time off from your daily schedule and perform yoga or meditation. It can help prevent stress and refresh your mind.
It may feel a bit difficult in the beginning. But once you get into the habit, you will enjoy doing it. Meditating or performing yoga for 1 hour daily can bring a lot of changes to your body.
4. Talk About your Problems
If you have things on your mind that is bothering you, talk to someone who will listen. You can talk to your any of your family member, friend, or anyone you feel comfortable with. Share your problems with them. Even if they cannot provide you with a solution, at least it will relieve your mind.
Keeping things to yourself will only increase your stress levels and make you frustrated. This is why you are advised to let it out. Talking to someone close is the best way to get relieves your mind amid stress.
5. Make Time for Your Hobbies
Keeping yourself busy with the things that you love to do can make you happy. It will keep you in a good mood and thus, keep stress away. From reading to listening to music, watching movies to drawing, there are so many things you can do.
Do whatever makes you feel happy. Even if you have a busy schedule, take out some time for your hobby. This will help you clear your mind.
How We Can Help Others Cope with Stress?
If you have anyone in your friend’s circle or family who is stressed because of everything that’s happening around you, be their support. Many people keep their feelings and emotions to themselves as they are too scared to share them with others. They keep it trapped inside them which only makes things worse.
You can help someone in stress by doing the following things:
1. Listen to them
The best thing you can do for a stressed person is listening to their problems. Encourage them to open up their problems with you. This will help them feel light and less stressed.
2. Offer Reassurance
When you are feeling overwhelmed, it is difficult to find a solution to a problem. Reassuring someone that this is a temporary situation can help them keep things in perspective.
3. Support them
If there is a specific problem that is stressing someone, offer your support to them. You may be able to help them find a logical solution to their problem. This way you can make the situation a lot easier for them.
4. Calm them Down
Whenever you see a stressed person, your first reaction should be to calm that person down. Try out some of the calming techniques like deep breathing to help the person relax.
You may not realize this instantly, but stress can wreak havoc on your body. It not only disrupts your mental condition but also impacts you physically. Despite the hard times, you should try to keep yourself happy and stress-free. This is the only way you can get through this COVID-19 pandemic. Even though you are stuck in the house, you should improve your lifestyle and follow a healthy routine. Taking continuous stress can be extremely bad for your health. People who fall in the higher risk category should take special note of it.