The coronavirus disease commonly known as COVID-19 is stressful for people. Some have contracted it and healed, some are in hospitals and worse, some have lost their lives. As the infections continue to spread in all parts of Kenya, many people are increasingly getting worried, including children. Fear and anxiety about the disease and what could happen is overwhelming and causing strong emotions in adults and children. Many people are already stressed.
According to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
According to the Kenya ministry of health, COVID-19 has produced a lot of uncertainty. Persistent worries on safety and normal functioning of the community are threatened.
The ministry says signs of stress include:
- Being easily distracted, trouble with concentration, trouble remembering
- Trouble relaxing, feeling irritable, feeling down, feeling anxious.
- Increase or decrease of energy, body tension, feeling restless, sweating, being easily startled, having headaches, changes in appetite, difficulty sleeping.
- Wanting to be alone, trouble completing works tasks, blaming others or getting into arguments
How to cope with the stress of COVID-19
The ministry of health has advisory include:
Staying Connected with Others: Even though epidemics restrict access to social support structures, such as schools, workplaces, places of worship, or even spending time with friends and family. Encourage to be creative about how to maintain connections with others during this time.
Talking to a trusted friend or loved one is helpful way to reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety, fear, boredom or vulnerability during social distancing.
Seeking support from family, friends, mentors, and/or spiritual/religious leaders.
Being flexible and creative in accessing support via phone, email, text messaging and video calls.
Talking about experiences and feelings to loved ones and friends.
Wring about their experiences and share them with others through social media and other outlets.
What should you avoid in order to reduce stress during Covid 19 pandemic?
More tips of managing stress
Acknowledging that it is understandable to feel anxious and worried about what may happen, especially when many aspects of life are uncertain or have changed.
Making time to unwind and remind oneself that strong feelings are tolerable and will fade. Accept, instead of suppressing emotions, and “ride the wave” of strong feelings by observing how they show up in their body without judgment.
Reducing exposure to distressing news, particularly prior to sleep.
Pacing between stressful activities, with fun activities after a hard task.
Relaxing the body and mind by practicing slow, steady breathing and muscle relaxation, as well as any other soothing actions (meditation and prayer, exercise, walking, music, reading for pleasure).
Maintaining a sense of hope; consider keeping a journal where one writes down things they are grateful for or that are going well.
Engaging in and enjoying pleasant activities (for example: sewing, gardening, cooking, playing board games, music and dancing).