The outbreak COVID-19 is extremely stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions. In fact, the feeling of being stressed can be typically triggered by an event that makes people feel frustrated or nervous. Anxiety is a feeling of fear, worry or unease. It can be a reaction to the stress. During COVID-19 pandemic, stress and anxiety are appropriate responses to raise awareness, allowing people to carefully plan and effectively manage the situation. Without stress and anxiety, a number of people would have ignored all disease control measures and denied complying preventive policies. As an undesired result, it potentially enhances disease transmission to the families and wider communities, causing disease even more difficult to be kept under control. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Nonetheless, stress and anxiety should be properly managed. People can first mitigate stress by taking all measures recommended by health authorities to reduce risks of infection such as frequent handwashing and social distancing. To relieve anxiety, it is recommended to maintain a routine involving a balance of time, relaxation and connecting with friends and families preferably through technology. To avoid being overwhelmed while paying attention to reliable sources of news on the pandemic, taking breaks from time to time including from social media is highly suggested.
In accordance with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the leading national public health institute of the United States, people should be able to notice their warning signs of being extremely stressed including:
- Emotional fluctuation or mood swings
- Fear or anxiety
- Being bored or being ignorant
- Irritability, frustration, becoming angry or being short-tempered easily
- Difficulty sleeping or changes in sleep
- Having recurring nightmares
- Changes in eating patterns e.g. excessive eating or decreased appetite
- Being inactive, agitation, tiredness or lack of energy
- Lack of personal interests
- Impaired concentration, being forgetful and poor performance
- Trouble thinking or making decisions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other illicit drugs
- Feelings of sadness, tearfulness, emptiness or hopelessness
- Worsening of chronic health problems in patients who have underlying diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, chronic kidney disease and cardiovascular diseases. Aggravating symptoms usually include abdominal pain, headache, body ache and skin rash.
Placing emphasis only on physical health impacts, mental health during pandemic might be overlooked. Some people do not realize their emotional alterations, resulting in inefficient arrangements, lack of concentration and poor working performance. These tremendously interfere with the relationship of personal life, colleagues and family. The prolonged accumulation of momentary stress leads to an increase in long-term cumulative stress and impact on overall health.
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