College of DuPage Nursing Student Michelle Denny wrote for Healthy Lombard that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us have experienced some form of quarantine. As days have turned into months, the effects of social isolation have set in. Zoom, FaceTime, and other platforms have made it easier to stay in contact with people, however, this does not compare to actually being physically with other people. For many, this is very distressing, especially those who highly value spending time with others. The resultant isolation may result in loneliness as well as increased stress levels.
Although each of us are experiencing the same pandemic, we are all uniquely affected. Coping is a unique experience, with reactions to stress that are highly individualized, and each has their own methods of coping which depend on various factors. Ineffective coping puts one at an increased risk for physical illness and mental distress.
Depression, anxiety, dementia, heart disease, and stroke have been seen to increase to levels consistent with smoking and obesity (Centers for Disease Control [CDC], 2019). The news and social media contribute to added stress for many people, especially with the current political status, so taking a break from the news or browsing social media sites may be beneficial to relieve stress.
Another way to relieve stress is to maintain a daily routine, similar to that from before the pandemic. To avoid a sedentary lifestyle, begin each day with exercise; maintain good hygiene and nutrition and stay connected with friends to prevent depression. Perhaps most important, however, is to know when to seek help. Changes in mood, sleep, appetite, energy level, concentration, or physical manifestations that may occur. When symptoms such as headaches, rashes, or stomach problems begin to interfere with daily activities these should be addressed as quickly as possible.
Take time to reach out to loved ones and check in on how they are coping. This may provide the added benefit of helping both individuals to prevent and cope with stress. Since we are all experiencing this pandemic, it is important to be as encouraging as possible to sustain this situation until it passes. In the meantime, implementing healthy behaviors will yield sustainable benefits that long outlast the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Sept. 2019, emergency.cdc.gov/coping/selfcare.asp.
“Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26 May 2020, www.cdc.gov/aging/publications/features/lonely-older-adults.html.