Coping with pandemic stress

Who would have thought that a virus we first heard mention of way back in December 2019, would still be causing havoc and having such a huge impact on our lives. Lately I’ve been wondering if the following sounds as familiar to others as it does to me and if it has anything to do with the dreaded pandemic:

  • You can’t concentrate. You read the same paragraph three times because you just can’t follow your thoughts.
  • You feel unmotivated and tired.
  • You jump from one thing to another without getting anything done.
  • Your response to things that you used to enthuse about is “meh”
  • Your memory is shot and you keep forgetting what you were about to do.
  • You find yourself paying more attention to negative information than positive. Gloom and doom have replaced comic videos.

pandemic_stressWell if any of the above rings true with you then take heart. You are not alone. I’ve done some investigating and apparently our brains are simply doing what they should  after so many months of a pandemic. It’s on the alert for danger, detecting threatening information. When it does detect a threat in the environment all your attention is diverted to the threatening information to allow you to produce the necessary biological stress response, which of course involves the body’s release of the stress hormone, cortisol. At the same time you are prevented from performing and completing the task on hand.

This kind of stress is very different to the acute stress one experiences when one narrowly collides with an oncoming car for example. With acute stress, as soon as the danger is over one’s stress levels return to normal. Not so when you are faced with a threat that persists for months and you constantly have to produce a stress response. This takes its toll on the body and it’s no wonder we feel tired.

A healthy level of “pressure” can help you focus and get stuff done, but there is a point where, if you subject your body to continual stress, the chances of developing a chain of complications like depression, chronic gastritis, high blood pressure, insomnia, heart diseases, and so on increase.

So what to do?

A good start would be to cut down on the number of threats that are in your control. How? Well I can think of two obvious ways:

  • Stop watching the news! The constant flow of negative information could be what’s standing between you and stress reduction.  There are some great uplifting movies to watch instead.
  • Secondly separate yourself from your phone as much as possible. Our devices and electronics help us communicate for work and leisure, however being constantly exposed to emails, text messages and social media makes it impossible to reduce stress.

Here are a few more suggestions for coping with pandemic stress:

  • Physical exercise lowers stress hormone levels. But you don’t have to near kill yourself. Moderate exercise may be better.
  • Make a habit of thinking of the positive events that occur during the day, especially before you go to bed.
  • Laugh often and as though there is no tomorrow.
  • Practice mindfulness – pay attention to the present moment with an attitude of acceptance.
  • Above all accept the fact that you might not be as productive as you used to be.
  • Reach out to your friends and family. Share your feelings and experiences during the past few months, don’t try to hide from them.
  • Believe that something positive can come from your trauma, like personal growth.
  • Believe in your own capacity to find strength, healing, resilience and peace. The good can only come from what you decide to do with the experience.
  • Adopt an attitude of gratitude. We all still have so much to be thankful for.

Finally, recognise that perhaps this is the time to rather take care of yourself.

Take one day at a time and “this too shall pass”.Serenity_anxiety_sleep

PS: If you feel you need a little bit more help coping with pandemic stress, try one of the many 100% natural adaptogenic tonics such as Serenity+ which calm the mind, reduce anxiety, improve sleep and generally help one to cope better. Avoid pharmaceutical drugs like anti-depressants or tranquilizers that could create a dependency and nasty side-effects which none of us needs to add to our challenges.

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