It’s Stress Awareness Week, which got me thinking about stress and how the current pandemic is affecting myself and others at the moment.
I’ve always been a “stressy” person. I pretty much worry about everything, even things that others may class as trivial. I know worrying doesn’t get me anywhere half the time but it’s part of who I am. I have always been a worrier, even as a child.
For people like myself, who worry about trivial things, when more “serious” things happen in life it can be difficult to cope. When I was diagnosed with scoliosis is a prime example, and I’ve recently written a post about how my scoliosis affected and continues to affect my mental health. Add a pandemic into the mix, a worrying and unknown event which has turned peoples lives and routines upside down, well, this is a massive recipe for stress.
There have been many aspects of the covid-19 pandemic that has caused stress for most of us..
According to ISMA, almost one in five adults (19.2%) were likely to be experiencing some form of depression during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in June 2020; this had almost doubled from around 1 in 10 (9.7%) before the pandemic (July 2019 to March 2020).
This is hardly surprising. At the start of the year there was the uncertainty and the panic buying, then there was the strict lockdown. There was the fear of people dying and the isolation of not being able to see friends and family.
Over the summer, things started opening up again, schools returned and we were encouraged to “eat out to help out” in restaurants in August. It almost felt like things were returning to a strange kind of normal. Then, after a false sense of security. things starting shutting down again. Restaurants were told to close at 10pm and more events were cancelled. For most of October, we were in a confusing limbo tier system in the UK, where some county’s (including mine) were back in a strict lockdown and others could do more. There were some events that could go ahead and some that couldn’t. We were unable to meet with others inside, but could meet outside as long as there were no more than 6. Yet schools are open, and people are working in offices/shops/warehouses etc. in close proximity to their colleagues. Then, this weekend, we were told we were going back into a nationwide lockdown from Thursday.
For me, a lot of it doesn’t make sense and over the last few months I’ve found it confusing knowing what we can and cannot do. It’s impossible to plan anything as the rules keep changing. One minute you think things are improving and the next minute they are going backwards again. People don’t know if they are coming or going at the moment. It feels worse than before as now we have the darker evenings and colder weather to contend with, it’s more difficult to meet friends/family outside. It’s tough seeing friends and family struggling and feeling down. It makes me wonder whether the negative affects of these measures on people’s mental health, will have a worse affect than the virus itself.
I’m still working from home and have been since March. Although I’m grateful that I have a job, it can be hard to separate home and work which causes me stress some days. Remote working is great but you lose that human contact and “fun” side of working in an office – banter, office parties and chatting with colleagues about what they did at the weekend for example. It feels like there is not a lot to look forward to at the moment, as it’s difficult to plan things, and the days feel a bit like groundhog day.
That being said, there have been some positives for me throughout all of this. I realise that before the pandemic, I took many things for granted. Being able to book a weekend away, meet friends for lunch, go for a swim at the gym, go to parkrun. All of these things I just did without much thought. Once this pandemic is over, I will never take anything for granted again and will appreciate time with friends/family that bit more.
I have also realised that before covid-19, I lived my life on full speed, trying to do everything and please everyone. I left little time for myself. The pandemic has forced me to slow down. As I’m now remote working, I have more time to rest, more time for myself and for my blog. I have found joy in new hobbies such as yoga, which helps me to manage my stress and anxiety. I have found more time to enjoy the things I usually have no time for such as reading. I have also dedicated time to learning and developing my skills via online courses.
In some ways, although the pandemic is awful and we’d all rather it would go away, it has forced me to reflect on my life. Actually, it’s made me realise that I don’t want the life I had before. I need more balance between work and home life. I need to slow down and be kinder to myself. I need to remember, I can’t do everything and please everyone and that’s okay.
For more information on Stress Awareness Week and how you can get involved, visit the ISMA website.
How have the current events affected your stress levels? Can you relate to anything in this post? Let me know in the comments below.
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I had scoliosis surgery in 2010 and blog about my experiences living with scoliosis. My aim is to raise awareness of scoliosis and help and inspire others with the condition.