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Coping with Stress During the Pandemic

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A recent survey has found that almost 6 in 10 workers say that they have experienced impacts to their employment by the pandemic such as a reduction in work hours, furloughs, and layoffs. Joining me is Mihaela Vincze, the program specialist for nonprofit Transamerica Center for Health Studies to discuss the impacts of this stress on our health.

Al: How are individuals coping with the stress of this new reality?

Mihaela: Losing any job or having hours cut can be emotionally taxing and this is especially true during such an uncertain time. Many people are facing unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. 

Al: What kind of effect can this constant state of stress have on us?

Mihaela: Chronic stress can trigger us to engage in behaviors that are bad for our health – overeating or not eating enough, social withdrawal, and substance abuse are some of the behaviors we may engage in. Stress can even weaken our immune system!

Al: That can have devastating effect on our ability to fight diseases, such as COVID-19. Does stress have any long-term effects?

Mihaela: When stress goes unchecked, it can lead to other health problems, such as anxiety, depression, headaches, and insomnia as well as worsening of chronic health conditions. It may also affect our overall wellbeing— by wreaking havoc on our cognition, memory and concentration, making it difficult to care for ourselves and our loved ones. 

Al: It seems like stress really influences our ability to live fulfilled lives—why is this?

Mihaela: Our brains are not built to operate efficiently under constant stress, and this may impact our motivation to do what is best for us, such as keeping our job skills up to date. Sometimes the most productive task we can engage in is to release stress through healthy outlets. 

Al: Can you give listeners some examples of these “healthy outlets”?  

Mihaela: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a list of recommendations for healthy ways to cope with stress. This includes connecting with others, taking care of our bodies through exercise and meditation, and finding time in the day to unwind by engaging in a fun activity. The CDC also recommends behaviors to avoid, such as watching the news excessively and engaging in substance use. By taking some time each day to decompress, you’ll learn how to cope with stress in a healthy way, which will make you ultimately stronger.

Al: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with the public? 

Mihaela: The coronavirus crisis is causing devastating levels of joblessness, but the damage will not only be economic if we do not prioritize our physical and emotional wellbeing. Check out our mental health guide for available resources at transamericacenterforhealthstudies.org.

Al: Thank you again for joining us, speaker. This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller – thanks for listening.

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.