Now that we are almost six months into the COVID-19 pandemic in our county, most of us have adapted to our new way of life. Wearing a mask, staying physically distanced from others, and keeping closer to home are our new normal. But even if we have adapted to this new reality, it has caused our anxiety and stress levels to increase over a long period of time, leading to chronic stress.
What is chronic stress?
We all encounter stressful situations or interactions on a daily basis, and we can usually manage them and get back to our regular lives. When we are under constant stress, and are unable to recover from it, chronic stress can lead to physical and mental problems, and can lower our immune system.
The changes we’ve made in our normal routines have the benefit of keeping us safer from COVID-19, but come at the expense of our physical and mental health. Heightened anxiety around everyday activities such as going to the grocery store, visiting our friends and family, or watching the news can add to the chronic stress we are experiencing. Uncertainty about what will happen in the future also adds to our stress. Many people were already experiencing chronic stress prior to COVID-19, whether due to their jobs, family situations, or discrimination due to race. COVID-19 can increase the effects of chronic stress, which can lead to more severe complications from COVID-19 or other illnesses.
What to watch out for
Chronic stress can cause physical changes in your body, such as:
Chronic stress can cause mental and emotional problems such as:
You can do a daily check-in with your body and mind so you can recognize any changes.
Ways to cope
If you find yourself experiencing signs of chronic stress, making time for daily recovery can help reduce the effects. Focus on activities that you can do to help lower stress:
Chronic stress can have many negative effects on your body, and a lowered immune system is particularly bad right now. Pay attention to your body, and know the signs of chronic stress, so you can take steps to reduce it. Focus on healthy activities that you enjoy and find relaxing, and above all, be patient with yourself. We are living through a difficult time, and the more we can do to take care of ourselves, the better off we’ll be.