Stress is a normal part of life that affects individuals in many ways. When not managed
effectively, stress can be pervasive and severely affect physical and mental health. Stress
affects the body by making it more difficult for our bodies to fight infection, it can disrupt sleep
and decrease pain tolerance. The physical symptoms of unmanaged stress can be
uncomfortable and distracting under normal circumstances, and unbearable if left unchecked.
Mentally, the tension and pressure of stress can add to feelings of helplessness and
hopelessness, which can trigger a host of debilitating mental health issues that make peace of
mind and joy impossible.
The global pandemic presents new challenges that provoke anxiety and even despair. We each
have to decide what our health risk is and determine what we are willing to do to manage it. The
uncertainty we are faced with tests the coping abilities of the most relaxed and optimistic of
individuals, so an increased stress level is normal and expected. Most people are able to adjust,
though, and are able to adapt to the increased health and isolation demands that the pandemic
brings without additional support.
Chronic stress due to medical conditions can be debilitating due to the continuous demands that
are placed on the individual in physical, emotional, and social ways. Medical conditions such as
diabetes, heart problems and obesity require care and attention that can be difficult and
stressful to manage. Days filled with doctor visits, complicated regimes of multiple medications,
and requiring cumbersome devices to be able to live independently make a normal day
challenging. Recognizing and accepting the added stress of having a medical condition is part
of adjusting to lifestyle changes that are required in order to be as healthy as possible. During a
global pandemic, added stress can tax the resources of the individual and increase anxiety,
irrational fears, hopelessness and helplessness. These symptoms can be debilitating and make
adjusting to changing demands impossible. With underlying medical conditions and the chronic
stress associated with them, the increased stress due to coronavirus can make a bad situation
unbearable, weakening the immune response and the ability to fight off disease and decreasing
the ability to recuperate after an infection.
With this increased vulnerability, added support is crucial because stress can be better
managed and have less debilitating effects with help and the right perspective. Mental health
counseling provides both to struggling individuals who are making their best effort to adjust to
difficult situations. If you are one of these individuals, please do not hesitate to call our office to
schedule an appointment. Teletherapy appointments are available for those who prefer to
remain at home.
By Rebeca Bright, PsyD