2020 has presented many new and unforeseen challenges as we have been forced to continually pivot to the changing climate, navigating a global pandemic. COVID-19 has
introduced many new stressors into our daily life as we adjust to wearing masks, working from home, managing kids out of school/daycare or homeschooling. In addition, we are dealing with demands for increased cleanliness precautions in workplaces and public spaces. As well as a generalized fear associated with contracting and the spread of the coronavirus.
The impacts of adjusting to life amidst a pandemic has dramatically increased individuals stress, anxiety, and feelings of isolation across many different age groups. Our mental health and mental wellness have become more important than ever. When stress accumulates it begins to weigh on one’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. An increase in feelings of overwhelm, fear, and exhaustion can often manifest into ‘burnout’ - a state of chronic stress. Chronic stress, defined as the repeated exposure to a perceived stress, turns on the “fight or flight response” in the body. This signals to the body to continually produce adrenaline, increasing heart rate and elevating blood pressure (2). Chronic stress also leads to a surge in cortisol levels in the body. Cortisol is the primary stress response hormone, which is responsible for regulating bodily systems. Cortisol is a built-in ‘alarm system’ that communicates to the brain regions that control mood, motivation, and fear (2). Long term exposure to chronic stress can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental well-being.
What is burnout? (1).
• Having feelings of sadness, anxiety, depression, failure, helplessness, or apathy.
• Isolating or disconnecting from others.
• Feeling exhausted and overwhelmed.
• Blaming others, or generally feeling irritable.
Fostering Wellness in your daily Life - AMIDST COVID 19
Implementing wellness and self- care practices into your daily habits can significantly help to mitigate feelings of stress, overwhelm, and symptoms of burnout. This is particularly important to prioritize during the uncertain times that we are all living in. Tolerating uncertainty is a practiced pattern, that builds resiliency.
Identify your stressors, take time to notice your primary stressors (in your work, school, or home environment). Write it down… now break it down. Notice what you need more of in your life and what you can let go of.
What you MAY need more of? (Examples could Be)
Time for rest and relaxation (create a bedtime routine, remove distractions such as screens/and iPhones from the bedroom that emit harmful blue light).
Intentional breaks. Notice the transition times in your day. Stop and notice your thought process. Do you notice your thoughts spinning out of control? Are you feeling distracted or moving into fear- based thinking? Ask yourself, do I need a mental break?
By intentionally creating pauses or break times throughout your day to breathe, look out the window, connect to your five senses, or get out for a walk, can dramatically shift your
outlook and feelings of optimism. In doing so, this will help you to better manage the daily demands, navigate perceived stress, and enhance resiliency during uncertain times.
Help and support. Ask for help. Feeling isolated, alone, or overwhelmed? Who do you have for support? Write down and remind yourself of who’s in your corner. Take time to reach out to your network of support, including family, friends, and co-workers. Share experiences and talk out your worries, ask for help and identify to others where you need more support in your life.
What you MAY NEED TO let go of? (Examples Could Be)
Say No. Revise your schedule and commitments. What are you able to say no to? Set firm boundaries when it comes to your personal time, family time, and work time. Notice what might be out of balance for you. Learning to say no and not over committing yourself. Adjusting your schedule can feel liberating and create more space in your life. In doing so, it will help to reduce feelings of overwhelm. This is particularly important when we are faced with new challenges, such as working from home with increased distractions in the environment.
People pleasing. Recognize and honour your comfortability regarding the current climate of COVID-19. Perhaps you may find you can let go of the need and desire to ‘people please’. Honour yourself first and do what feels best for you.
(1) Canadian Medical Association (2020).
(2) Mayo Clinic. Chronic stress puts your help at risk.(2020).