Somehow this year time has stood still and yet with the blink of an eye we are in November. With National Stress Awareness Day approaching I begun to reflect on the totality that COVID has had on my life thus far. As a recent graduate dealing with limited job opportunities, closures of everyday amenities and lack of social interactions due to regions rolling back to Stage 2 have all played a factor in an increased level of stress in my daily life However, I am not alone it has been reported that around 11 million Canadians have experienced an elevated level of stress during the pandemic.
The normalcy of our everyday lives has constantly been challenged during this time. As we adapt and shed old routines, we begin to find ourselves more mentally and physically at risk due to these stress-inducing circumstances. Though we face contrasting hardships, come from varying backgrounds and each has our own emotional support system. Like COVID-19, stress does not discriminate. As mentioned by Dr. Kaminska “stress adversely affects not only mental wellbeing but also our physical health and intellectual capacity”. But have we stopped for a moment to consider the impact stress has created in our loved one’s lives?
Children and Stress
This September across the world schools have seen the return of children. Those who have returned to classrooms have faced modified measures to prevent transmission. This includes physical distancing, barriers, masks, and personal practices. Whereas children learning from home are missing valuable social interactions that cannot be recreated online. According to Tasha Trotman mother of a 16-year-old, “my daughter needs the social interaction coming from working in a real-world class setting as she’s not an independent worker and finds greater success working with others”. These situations can be tremendously stressful for children, fortunately, the CDC has provided a few strategies for parents to communicate and help their children.
CDC Strategies for Parents
- Maintain a Normal Routine: Following a set routine can provide a sense of structure and a feeling of normalcy during this time.
- Talk, listen and encourage expression: Establish a consistent space/time for your child to share their feelings. It is important to note that you do not want to pressure them to share.
- Watch and listen: Notice a drastic change? This could be the moment you need to step in and offer guidance and encouragement.
- Reassure: Just let them know it will be okay. Keep them in the loop about safety measures in place to protect them.
- Connect with Others: Reach out to other professionals, teachers’ other parents. As we navigate through uncertainty working with adults in your child’s life can help create consistency throughout any interactions.
Remember to Take Care of You
Whomever you are reading this right now remember you cannot help anyone if you do not take care of yourself! Not dealing with stress and constantly pushing aside your problems to help everyone else can lead to burnout. However, here are a few simple steps you can try whenever you begin to feel stressed.
- Sing: Yes, that’s right sing. According to Baishali Mukherjee from the World Federation of Music Therapy “singing is an aerobic exercise which sees the release of endorphins, the brains feel-good’ chemicals’. Take advantage of the opportunity of being stuck at home, next time you feel an onset of stress take a moment and sing along to your favourite song. Are you self-conscious about your singing voice? Remember you are home and only the people you share a living space with can hear you.
- Sunlight: Feeling trapped inside staring at a screen all day while you are in another zoom meeting? Step outside get some sunlight as exposure to it releases serotonin in turn elevating your mood. Simple as it sounds you also give yourself a moment to breathe an escape quarantine. Use this as an opportunity to reconnect with the outside world and enjoy a breath of fresh air.
- Mindfulness: The Yale Stress Center states mindfulness can be achieved by following a three-step daily practice: focus on what is currently happening, do so with purpose and commit to sticking with the experience no matter the outcome. By practising mindfulness, it can help process unwanted feelings that can arise. Consequently, allowing you to deal with them at that moment and not linger.
You Deserve it
The worst thing you can do is nothing as not dealing with stress can lead to damaging long-term affects on your mental health. Applying these simple strategies into your daily life will help limit stress and can introduce a new outlook. Let us know if you have any other strategies you are using that we can share!
Image by: Mohamed Hassan (Source Pixabay)