The emotional mess of unexpected stress

Published 7:22 pm Monday, March 23, 2020

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Around every corner there is the look of fear and anxiety. People are just now coming to terms with the fact that life as they once knew it is over and is changing constantly. In the grief world, some refer to this as “The new normal,” however it can be very difficult to understand as well as grasp its complexity.

Every day something new arises, sending us spinning in different directions, often leaving us feeling lost and confused about what is happening. Just when we think we have things under control, a new wave of uncertainty arrives and it is unfortunately causing much angst and wringing of hands. Case in point, my family is spread out among many different states and so we have been communicating through text messages. I am of the opinion that it is important to stay in touch and as “up to date” as possible, however, I have a family member who absolutely cannot take part in the conversations because it is causing her unwanted anxiety that is creating more problems. Point blank, she cannot handle the staggering numbers of positive cases or the possibility of social distancing from family lasting months on end. I am willing to bet that she is not alone.

At the start of this pandemic, there was a lot of misinformation and frankly dismissive attitudes about the severity of what was happening. Phrases such as “Just wash your hands” or “It’s only the flu” have now quickly been replaced with “This is more serious than we thought” or “I’m afraid for my family and friends.” The country is slowly spinning out of control as panic buying and fears of lost jobs and unemployment take center stage. What was once our everyday way of living has now turned into questioning as well as a desperate need for comforting words, hope and a solid “plan” to get through this trying time.

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Now, more than ever, it is important to talk about how these events are affecting you and your family. Stress can lead to many physical symptoms such as increased anxiety, heart palpitations, severe headaches, sleep loss and appetite disturbance. Those who have always felt like they were “in control” are now stumbling around in circles wondering how to adapt to all of these unprecedented changes and they are experiencing the unfamiliar feeling of vulnerability. Please keep in mind that Mental Health workers will continue to be available for you and your family to help see you through these hardships. Most, if not all of my colleagues are offering in office visits (with safety measures in place) or therapy sessions online. Not comfortable with that? Or, what exactly is TeleHealth?

TeleHealth is a new wave of medicine that is taking advantage of providing treatment via a computer, laptop, tablet or even from your smart phone. Yes, it might be uncomfortable at first, but it still provides an option to have emotional needs met during a period of uncertainty, something that is crucial for our overall health and wellbeing. For most of us, we are suddenly faced with unexpected free time and are searching for ways to cope with what is happening around the world. It is easy to become overwhelmed, saddened or fearful, a phenomenon that is unfamiliar to those who view themselves as being “strong” and are hardly fazed by the stressors of the world. Please know that you are not alone and then I would gently encourage you to reach out to someone who can help.  As always, my email is available to you as a direct line of support, so don’t hesitate to reach out if you need anything. Together, let us address the stress of this “mess” and find comfort in our many blessings.