Dealing with Trauma and Stress During a Global Pandemic

When COVID-19 first made it’s appearance in America in January of 2020, most thought it was just a flu going around and that there was nothing to worry about. Two months later March 2020 came around, and the world literally stopped. Businesses and restaurants were forced to close down, and some have never reopened. Schools made history by shutting down and students learned completely virtually. And the unemployment rate skyrocketed. It’s been a year and a half since a global pandemic started and finally, things are opening up. States are lifting their mask mandates as well as their capacity limits, and the job market is plentiful. What no one predicted from a pandemic was the impact it would have on the human psyche.

The stress that adults feel came from the financial stress of either having lost a job or received less hours due to the pandemic, emotional stress from having not seen loved ones since the quarantine started as well as the feelings of being isolated. The stress that children feel are starting to worry children’s psychologists. The pandemic has left children feeling unsafe and out of control, and the complete shift in routine such as a disruption in school and family gatherings and an isolation from loved ones can have very dangerous consequences. It is unknown exactly how many people are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, but children who are watching the news a lot are showing more symptoms from the repeated exposure to the trauma of a pandemic. As for adults, their trauma most likely comes from having understood what COVID-19 can do to the human body, with the most common effect being death.

Long term consequences of these traumas and stresses not being addressed are: a decreased physical health, a higher risk of suicide or self harm, and a greater risk of substance abuse. To treat symptoms of dress, psychologists recommend seeking psychotherapy and counseling. When it comes to children, they say the parents really need to prioritize their children and have age appropriate discussions about the pandemic because it is very important for children to know about the virus and what it does. Parents also should teach their children relaxation techniques such as deep breathing.

Loma Linda University Health posted several tips on how to deal with stress during a pandemic such as: 1) Step away from negative news and negative social media. Instead, think about and focus on the positive things. 2) Get enough sleep, exercise, eat well, and avoid too much alcohol or substance use. 3) Find things that make you happy! Video chat with loved ones, plan a virtual game night, paint, or even garden.

The year has been filled with a lot of negatives, with a pandemic taking the lives of thousands, of police shootings, riots, etc. Not everything is negative though; there are still good people out there trying to make the best out of everything. Look around; you can feel the positives in the woods when the breeze blows through the trees and you can even see the positives right in your own neighborhood as the teenagers help an elderly couple mow their grass.

 

Resources

Campbell, L. (2020, September 8). The World Is Experiencing Mass Trauma from COVID-19: What You Can Do. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/the-world-is-experiencing-mass-trauma-from-covid-19-what-you-can-do.

Understanding the long-term collective trauma from COVID-19. News. (n.d.). https://news.llu.edu/health-wellness/understanding-long-term-collective-trauma-from-covid-19.

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