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Saturday, September 19, 2020

COVID-19 And Stress: Everything You Need to Know

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COVID-19 has caused everyone some form of stress regardless of age, gender or race. The world has not experienced such global distress in the last few decades, thus adjusting to the present situation is far from easy for both regular citizens, the WHO, and the world’s governments.

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Any person who has been caring for a loved one affected by the coronavirus, working in a hospital, staying home without food, self-isolating, or even watching the news may get a panic attacks someday if the stress gets too much.

However, if there is anything the health care professionals have taught the world about COVID-19, it is the fact that stress worsens the symptoms and reduces a person’s chances of a speedy recovery.

Therefore, it is essential that you know how best to manage the seemingly unavoidable stress that accompanies the thoughts, experiences, and your daily life in the era of COVID-19.

This article is created to educate you on simple stress avoidance and stress-prevention methods that may come handy now and even post-COVID-19.

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is a flu-like infection caused by a human coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. This infection is currently a pandemic and is on the rise, but there are clinical trials for a possible vaccine or cure for this disease.

Nevertheless, the WHO is yet to approve any of the proposed vaccines as clinical trials are yet to produce positive outcomes.

This is not to dismiss the fact that some already existing medication has been helpful in the fight against COVID-19, but these medications are not considered as a cure despite their effectiveness.

What is stress?

Stress is the emotional pressure that a person or animal experiences when being encountered by a task or situation that they find overwhelming. When people fail to deal with it, stress can cause anxiety and nervous breakdown to them.

Handling stress and COVID-19

Stress can amplify the immune system. Research carried out two groups of people – The control group and the specimen.

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By the end of the study, it was confirmed that the group that mindfully observe their meditation training produced more antibodies when given a flu vaccine than the control group that did nothing to control their stress level.

This indicates that controlling your stress level amplifies your immune response to disease while not managing your stress level may weaken your immune functions.

And note that COVID 19 has no approved treatment; thus, it is left for your immune system to fight for you while you and your health team try to keep you alive to the point where your body produces enough antibodies to fight the virus.

Thus, stress can reduce your immune system’s response to COVID-19 and hinder your chances of recovering. Therefore, stress management should be prioritized.

Stress management

Stress management is a range of techniques and strategies aimed at managing someone’s level of stress, especially chronic stress, to allow the person to continue or improve in their normal day-to-day activities.

Unhealthy coping strategies

Coping strategies are individualistic because people the decision of how to cope with stress; however, there are unhealthy coping strategies that can be detrimental to the well-being and health of an individual.

These strategies may help reduce stress but only for a short time but with long-term adverse effects.

These strategies may also increase your chances of having severe COVID-19 illness if infected. They include:

  • Smoking: This affects your respiratory system and increases your chances of developing severe COVID-19 and other complications if infected.
  • Binge drinking and alcoholism: This may give you euphoria and relieve you of stress, but it disrupts your immune systems’ function, thus leaving you with the high likelihood of having severe COVID-19 illness if infected.
  • Overeating or undereating
  • Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities
  • Using pills or drugs to relax: You may become dependent or addicted to the drugs, and this can hinder your chances of quick recovery from COVID-19 if infected.
  • Sleeping too much
  • Procrastinating
  • Avoidance behaviors
  • Taking out your stress on others (anger outbursts and physical violence)

Healthy coping strategies

These are strategies you can adopt to handle stress and still be healthy. These tips will even help your improve your immune system and better your chances of quick recovery from illnesses, including COVID-19. They include:

Importance of managing stress

It is imperative to manage your stress level and maintain resilience. The following are reasons why you need to reduce your stress level:

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  • Helps you feel better
  • Reestablish control and continue your normal functioning
  • Improves immune response to diseases
  • Reduce stress and its effects
  • Reduces your chances of developing certain harmful chronic health conditions
  • Improves ability to handle future stresses

Tips on preventing COVID-19

While you are adopting tips on how you manage your stress level, you should also take
Guidelines for preventing COVID-19 should be strictly followed to avoid the infection.

Preventing COVID 19 is a lot better than getting treated for it and especially for people who are under so much pressure that they get stressed or people who are unable to handle stress are most likely to suffer from severe COVID 19 illness.

These guidelines include:

Maintaining a social distance of about 6 feet from people

  • Wash your hands thoroughly and more often
  • Use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% – 80% alcohol if you cannot wash your hands with soap and water
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean thoroughly and disinfect frequently touched surfaces every day
  • Stay home and self-isolate if you are unwell
  • Wear a face mask or at least face cloth if you are sick and must go outside
  • Maintain a daily routine at home to always have time by your side
  • Make up a daily routine and adopt living by the schedule
  • Make up a healthy routine before going to bed, for instance, reading, peddling positive thoughts, warming up before bed, etc
  • Limit your caffeine intake as well as other sugary drinks
  • Create a workout plan to help you exercise
  • Make out a separate workspace in your house that you find convenient to improve your productivity and limit distractions
  • Reduce your access to news and information
  • Stick to only a few sources that are up-to-date, credible and reliable
  • Try to reduce disagreements with anyone and everyone living your space
  • Focus on listening more than talking in a conversation
  • Set up specific times in the day or week to expressively discuss disagreements or frustrations.

Signs that you are getting stressed

The signs of stress affect an individual emotionally and physically. If you are experienced or manifest the following symptoms, then you might be stressed:

Emotional stress

This is how emotionally affected you can get if you become stressed;

  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Apathy
  • Easily frustrated
  • Blaming of others
  • Irritability
  • Lacking feelings
  • Disconnection from others
  • Poor hygiene
  • Tired
  • Exhaustiveness
  • Feelings of failure
  • Feelings of hopelessness

Symptoms of secondary traumatic stress

These are signs that stress has become severe:

  • Excess worry or fear towards unfortunate events
  • Always scared and easily startled

Physical signs of stress

The physical signs are the manifestation of stress on your physical wellbeing.

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  • Heart palpitations
  • Lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Stomach upset such as nausea, diarrhea, and constipation
  • Aches, pains, and tense muscles
  • Chest pain and rapid heartbeat
  • Insomnia
  • Frequent colds and infections
  • Low sexual drive

Tips on how to Stay Healthy at Home

  • Adequate diet
  • Eat homemade food rather than
  • Eating out
  • Adequate sleep
  • Spend time taking in the fresh air
  • Take walks around your house or neighbourhood
  • Meditate or engage in yoga

References;

COVID-19 And Stress
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Disclaimer: This article is purely informative & educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.

Emmanuella Ekokotu
Ekokotu Emmanuella is a sociologist and Anthropologist, writer, and fashion model who lives in Benin city, Edo state,Nigeria.
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