Stress and Other Pandemic Reactions
The Mental Health & Recovery Services Board has been sending newsletter articles to our local schools this year as a resource on relevant topics for parents and their students. This is the most recent article.
The pandemic—along with concerns related to health care, financial insecurity, racism, and more—are causing high levels of stress. The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association conducted a survey and found that nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say the coronavirus pandemic is a significant source of stress in their lives.
81% of youth ages 13–17 report they have experienced negative impacts of pandemic-related school closures, and half (51%) say the pandemic makes planning for their future feel impossible. Isolation impacts us all. Stress is taking a toll. What everyone needs right now is support.
Fear, anxiousness, panic, loneliness, irritability, anger, distrust, unexplained sadness, feelings of being overwhelmed—these are all emotional reactions to a difficult experience. Headaches, tiredness, changes in appetite, and stomach aches are all ways your body might react to stress over time.
The stress of the pandemic can affect your mental abilities by making it hard to think clearly, pay attention, solve problems, or remember things. You might notice the need to burn anxious energy by pacing or fidgeting. These reactions do not automatically mean you have a diagnosis. Mental health conditions are common and treatable. But sometimes needing support through a hard time is just that.
Some ways to manage stress in your children are to provide structured but undemanding home activities, monitor media exposure to disaster trauma, encourage expression through play, encourage discussion of their pandemic experiences and emotions, encourage physical activities, and avoid insistence on discussion of feelings with parents. Support adults by providing opportunity to talk about pandemic experiences in detail, encourage discussion of and expression of emotions, and assist in re-establishing social connections.
Beware of some behaviors that can be triggered by stressful events such as increased smoking or drinking or throwing items. If you or others are in danger due to stress reactions, seek professional help.
The world is full of challenges right now. If you or your loved one would like to receive support and guidance on how to manage through this hard time, call the 24/7 Hopeline at 1-800-567-4673. Or text 741 741.
You can also attend a free, virtual Pandemic Hope and Resilience Workshop for practical tools on how to manage prolonged stress and practice healthy coping during the pandemic. For ages 13 and up. Learn more and register at wecarepeople.org/registrations.