Who is not feeling some form of stress right now? Who knew we would be going through such a profound experience in our lifetimes?
Anxiety and depression is at an all-time high, not just for the fear of getting COVID-19. What people fear more is the unknown—the unknown of what is next? How long will this last? Will there be a normal again? How is this going to affect my future financially and emotionally? Will I or someone I love be able to go back to work or earn enough money?
These are just a few of the questions I have heard lately.
Our world the way we have known it has been turned upside down, and even as we slowly open up, there still are so many unanswered questions. Searching for the answers is only going to create more stress and fear.
Isolation is a major concern, as the importance of having social support is essential for our well-being. Even for us introverts, we still need contact with others.
There are differences for each generation and how they experience this world crisis, yet there are many similarities.
I am seeing teenagers and people in their 20s struggle more with the lack of social connection. This is leading them even more into relying on social media, which in turn creates more anxiety out of fear of missing out.
Social contact is part of the development needed for this age group. A study was done with students, and it was reported that there is a 20 percent increase in depression among this age group, along with an increase of 11 percent in anxiety and an increase of 16 percent in loneliness.
This age group already has high percentages of anxiety and depression, which leads to significant increases in mental health issues, from eating disorders to abuse of drugs and alcohol.
People in their 30s are stressed more about work, finances and managing the commitments to their young families along with their aging parents. This is a lot of pressure for them, again easily leading to depression and anxiety. There is also the stress of trying to school children who do not understand the reasons why they cannot be social. Parents are feeling torn between where to put their energy. Burn out and stress are major factors.
Looking at the next generation, 40s and 50s, this age group also have the concern of elderly parents and possibly teenagers in the house. Trying to keep their parents safe while managing teenagers being stuck at home is challenging. ork can also be a concern. Loss of work is a worry—will they be able to find another job, or return to their previous salary?
The most vulnerable age is people in their 60s plus. How is their retirement going to survive the stock market? Questions they ask themselves: Am I prepared enough? How vulnerable am I physically? What will happen if I end up in the hospital? Should I see my children or grandchildren?
These are not the questions this age group thought they would be asking themselves.
These are things that we have little control over. What we do have control over is how we manage this time. One of my first and most requests is turn off your television. The stress from watching the 27/4 news coverage is extremely anxiety provoking, leaving us often with less answers and more fear.
Look at the positives of this time. There are always areas in our life that we can be grateful for. I am getting more tasks done around my house that I kept putting off and I feel good accomplishing them.
Make sure to stay on a routine and get enough sleep. Getting a sleep schedule also is key for our mental well-being.
Also extremely important: get outside, go for a walk, do some gardening, get on your bike. Whatever it is, ensure each day you are getting some vitamin D by being outside.
We all know that eating well is essential. We all have heard the jokes about weight gain during this time, and I must admit, I have found my clothes fitting a little tighter these days. Instead of the Freshman 15 lbs, it is the Covid 19 lbs. Be kind, be gentle, know this too shall pass, and eventually we will be able to get our eating back on track. One step at a time.
Remember it is less about our circumstances that matter, and more our attitude towards it. In his book “Man’s Search for Meaning,” Viktor E. Frankl talks about his experience in the concentration camps, and shared that “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
So choose your own way through these profound times.