Home General Info & Awareness Is The Covid19 Pandemic Increasing Your Stress Level?

Is The Covid19 Pandemic Increasing Your Stress Level?

by InvisiblyMe

While stress is nothing new, the Covid19 pandemic has exponentially heightened this to near breaking point for many individuals. Worldwide, stress is becoming its own kind of pandemic. For Stress Awareness Month 2021 this April, this post takes a look at the mental health toll of stress during these coronavirus times & how to manage it.

Covid19 Stress Research : A Widespread Issue

In a recent collaboration between stress.org and Huawei looking at 2000 British adults, research discovered that 65% of a them have felt more stressed since March 2020 when Covid restrictions were enforced. The three biggest areas of concern seemed to be around uncertainty, disconnection, and a disconcerting loss of control

It’s perhaps an unsurprising finding. The pandemic has resulted in a whirlwind of emotions for many of us, running the gamut from anger and frustration, to despondency and heartache. 

While we’re all living through the same pandemic, we’re very much all on different paths, having a different experience of this time. 

There can be some stark contrasts: On furlough and bored at home vs taking on more work and caring duties and being too busy. Flourishing with more time for self-care and hobbies vs mental health going downhill. Mourning the loss of loved ones vs carrying on as normal. Struggling financially on reduced income vs celebrating a boost to income and savings.

In other ways, experiences can share similarities. Many of us may be subject to the same restrictions and fears and worries. 

Whatever your experience has been and however you are feeling, please know that you’re not alone. There will be others out there who ‘get’ your situation, who share some of what you’re going through. No experience is identical, but at times when it can feel as though everyone else is living in a parallel universe to the one you’re in, it’s good to know that’s not the case. 

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Let’s take a little look at the three areas this research has uncovered as being particularly troublesome.

1. Uncertainty 

There’s no denying that these are uncertain times. This is a novel virus and it has been a steep learning curve for all involved. Unfortunately the lack of trust many of us now feel in those running our countries or looking after our healthcare systems and making the big decisions makes us feel all the more sceptical and uncertain. 

When the media reports different versions of the same story, we get confused. When ‘facts’ are at odds with one another, we don’t know who to believe.

With the advent of the vaccines came a rush of hope. Then doubts started to seep in, issues around production and logistics cropped up, problems around priority groups ensued. I’m personally in favour of vaccines and wrote previously about my experiences with the first Pfizer vaccination dose. However, unlike other vaccines that have had years for development and clinical trial procurement, these vaccines have had to be rushed through, making some people wary of how safe and effective they really are. 

Furthermore, In the UK, the gap for the second dose was lengthened from 21 days to 3 months, which in itself was a risky move with no research to back it up. This causes more uncertainty and scepticism.

There’s been uncertainty around not just when life will go back to ‘normal’ but when all businesses will re-open, jobs will restart or children will go back to school. If the children are back in school, will they be sent back home in a few days because of another outbreak? It makes planning difficult for parents, workers, and everyone in-between. 

Those with chronic illness may already face uncertainty when it comes to their health, but there may be more concerns during the pandemic with regard to accessing medical support, tests and treatment. This comes amid news of NHS waiting lists in England reaching a record high by the end of January 2021, with around 4.66 million patients waiting for hospital treatment.

A growing sense of unease is palpable. Those who are in any way vulnerable may feel this as a constant undercurrent, including those who often get left behind by our governments, like those with disabilities, the blind and sight impaired, the deaf. The pandemic is not accessible for such individuals, and while greater inclusivity has bloomed in some areas, there are so many challenges faced that it’s in painfully clear contrast to those living their lives since 2020 as though everything is normal. 

So many areas of uncertainty. We want to see the brighter days on the horizon and start daydreaming about the time when we can hug our loved ones, sit in a coffee shop, attend delayed medical procedures, celebrate birthdays. We desperately want that confidence in things getting better, but there are no guarantees and no there is no certainty. But there is always hope.

Strength Through Uncertainty 

Hold on to hope and nurture it. Even if it’s only the tiniest flicker, never let it go out. We don’t know what will happen next and we can’t predict any outcomes, but change is a given. You can get through this, just as you’ve got through other challenges in your life. 

Try to gain a little more confidence in the situation by learning what you can about it; investigate your rights when it comes to employment, re-assess your budget if things are worrisome, speak to an advisor if you need financial support, before visiting somewhere check coronavirus what security measures they have in place, keep updated with the news but know when to take a break and step away to avoid news overwhelm.

We are creatures of habit and many of us like standing on solid ground with a degree of certainty, routine and confidence behind us. When that’s not possible, hold on to what you can; ground yourself, look to the small simple joys in the day to day, search for the good news amid the terrible, utilise distractions, and hang on.

2. Disconnection

With it being too dangerous to see family and friends, a sense of disconnection and loneliness has shrouded portions of the population. There’s also less in-person contact generally that we may not have fully appreciated before, like a passing hello to strangers, smiles at the postman, a chat with the store clerk and so on. Even the casual natter about the weather that used to seem meaningless is now noticeable in its absence. 

It’s sadly nothing new for those without support systems. Many of those with chronic illness may have already seen a reduction in friends and a lack of socialising for years, too. The extra divides to society now can just reinforce this disconnection all the more.

The problem isn’t with social restrictions per se, but with that’s right and necessary. It’s not the government telling us not to meet up with other people that’s the problem; the problem is a potentially deadly virus. We can’t see friends, family or acquaintances because it’s simply not safe to do so. But it’s not just this interaction that’s being missed. We may underestimate the impact of simple gestures and communications in day to day life with those we come into passing contact with.

However, there’s no denying that we’re in a unique position in 2020 and 2021. We are fortunate to be in the modern world where technology isn’t just possible, it’s more accessible and widely available. The likes of social media and video chats have enabled people to stay connected in ways that we could never have dreamed possible even just 25 years ago.

The problem is that not everybody can afford or access this technology, and not everyone knows how to use it. I personally really feel for these people, especially as everything has gone digital during the pandemic, from registering for financial support, paying bills instead of going in to town and ordering online groceries, to booking GP appointments and Covid vaccinations. Technology also doesn’t make up for in-person communications or the human touch, the lack of which can be very distressing when you miss a loved one. 

These times are also incredibly difficult when there are family members who’re vulnerable and alone, or when you’re in hospital but can’t have any visitors. It must also be a tremendously isolating experience for those who have little in the way of family or friends, and who don’t have the ability to get online either. In an increasingly internet-connected world, there are proportions of individuals who are being left out. 

A photo of a woman wearing a t-shirt, stood against a large window looking out with her hands up to the glass. She is wearing a face mask, as though dealing with stress and loneliness during the Covid19 pandemic.

Re-Connect

Use whatever tools you have at your disposal to reconnect with the world. With the blessing of online technology, we can use forums, WhatsApp, texts, phone calls, social media, Facebook groups, video chats and more, whether you’re talking to friends or strangers.

It can also be comforting to spend more time with pets if you have them and with nature, though the latter is harder if you can’t safely get outside. If you have a garden, take a few minutes when you can to sit outside, breathe in the fresh air, appreciate the scenery and be mindful. If you’re struggling, please reach out. Tell a friend or loved one how you feel. Please speak to your doctor if you need professional mental health help, or contact a charity if you just need a friendly voice to chat with. 

3. Loss Of Control

We’re fighting against a virus that’s totally invisible to us. How do you protect yourself adequately from something you can’t see, hear, touch, taste or smell? We just have to do the best we can, but there’s never any guarantee it’ll be enough. 

There are factions of people in each country that have been either nonchalant about the virus or have been campaigning against government restrictions for their ‘freedom’. It’s true that we’re under more control than ever before, being told what we can and can’t do. But such measures are supposed to be for the good of humanity and to save lives. It’s not the restrictions we should be frustrated with but the virus itself.

However, there are decisions being made beyond the logical restrictions that cause understandable uproar. Dealings with vaccinations for example, or even the changes being made in the US and UK to curtail opioid prescriptions for chronic pain patients. We can feel as though we have no control; we’re just one small nobody in a sea of billions and our voice will never be heard by the powers that be.

We also can’t control what others do. I know I won’t be alone in becoming apoplectic every single time I leave the house now. People that won’t wear masks, those that shove past you, customers that stand an inch behind you, people shouting across your face in the street to their friend on the other side of the road. Such things make us feel fear, anger and outrage at the ignorance, and this negativity gradually builds to boiling point.

Loss of control also comes with employment, healthcare and everything else tied to the pandemic because it all depends on the proliferation of the virus and the decisions of governments as to what happens next.

Regain Some Control

To take back a little control, we can only focus on what we can do, not what we can’t. We can only focus on what we can change, not other people we can’t. 

This is where raising awareness, signing petitions, writing to MPs, or even speaking to the media to try to affect change can all come in. It’ll make you feel you’ve done your bit and you’ve made your voice heard. It could even make a positive difference and instigate change, because we’re louder and stronger together. It can also be helpful just letting off steam with a friend to release some of the pressure that builds from the emotions stemming from a disconcerting lack of control.

Do what you can to keep yourself and others safe. You might busy yourself with disinfecting groceries before putting them away, wiping down regularly used surfaces or sanitising clothing more regularly. All the small things add up. 

What things can you do that are productive but also fulfilling for a sense of achievement? Work, home decluttering, digital decluttering, even re-arranging your kitchen cupboards or bookcases. Again, it’s that sense of being proactive that can help. 

With work, some people are preparing for a potential shift to a new role or career path, using this time to assess the options or take on new learning credentials. With healthcare, get your ducks in a row; organise your medical information and test results, write to specialists, chase up appointments, research your conditions and sketch out other possible avenues to explore. 

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The mixture of these three particularly prevalent points found in the research prevalent are all interrelated. Uncertainty, disconnection & loss of control can affect many of us to different degrees. As time goes by and emotion builds, we’re taken to the precipice of overwhelm and stress. 

I don’t need to write here how detrimental stress is to our mental and physical health. Everyone knows. Reducing stress is another matter entirely. Having strategies to nurture our wellbeing and practice self-care are very important, but often they can be harder to do when we need them the most. Try to put yourself and your wellness at the top of your priorities, at least from time to time. For those of you looking after others, remember that you need to take care of yourself, too.

I struggle with stress quite considerably in recent years, and while I can probably write 10 pages on excellent stress-relief techniques, I do a lousy job ever applying them to myself. I’ve felt incredibly stressed during this pandemic with more things to do but I can’t keep up because of my health and pain so I’m forever behind and frustrated; I’ve had so little time that my mental health has gone by the wayside entirely. Please don’t be like me. Please pay attention to your mental health, look after yourself and reach out for professional support from your doctor if you need it. Rest, recuperate, celebrate small wins and savour simple joys in the day to day.

Let go of what you can’t control, but empower yourself to affect change by focusing on the things you can do. 

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Have you felt your stress levels rise during the pandemic for any particular reasons? Have you spent more time to look after your mental health as a result?

Caz  ♥

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38 comments

johnrieber April 22, 2021 - 4:11 pm

There is so much evidence that supports all of what you have written…it’s a true “once in a lifetime” event, something no one could have ever prepared for – and it has physical, mental and emotional implications for a long time to come…terrific post thanks for thwarting it.

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 11:44 am

Absolutely, John. It came as quite a shock to most of us I think, something we never could have imagined in our lifetime. While we’re very fortunate to be living in the modern world going through a pandemic, it still has considerable ramifications physically, mentally and emotionally. Thanks for reading and have a great Sunday ????

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Kymber April 22, 2021 - 4:16 pm

You’ve really hit the nail on the head here. I’m so glad to have this to look to in order to regain some sense of control. Great article, Caz. ❤️

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 11:45 am

Aw thank you, Kymber. I’m glad you like the post. I imagine there are many of us feeling control has been out of our reach for a while now. Have a restful Sunday ???? x

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Sandee April 22, 2021 - 4:30 pm

Well done, but we’ve never stressed over Covid one bit. We both worked in nasty environments where disease was part of the job. We took the necessary precautions and did fine. Covid is nothing compared to Aids and TB. We worked with many folks that had one, the other or both. Scary times.

Have a fabulous day, Caz. ♥

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 11:46 am

It’s interesting to get your perspective, Sandee. It seems quite a world away from what it’s been like in our home, but we’ve never dealt with other comparable diseases before. Your prior experience changes the landscape on this one for sure. Still, scary times and hopefully – hopefully – there’s now some light at the end of the tunnel for some countries getting through this and hopefully that’ll have a positive effect worldwide. xx

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Cheryl, Gulf Coast Poet April 22, 2021 - 4:42 pm

Yes, the pandemic is stressful! Your post explains the situation well and offers practical advice. Thank you for posting this. <3

There is one update on preventing corona virus. The latest findings are that the virus is spread through the air, and almost never spread by contact, so the disinfecting and hand sanitizer are pretty much a waste of time. Though the virus can be identified on surfaces, it is already dead and cannot cause illness.

I think it is always good to wash your hands frequently. Even if it doesn't prevent corona virus, it may help prevent other illnesses. Many of the hand sanitizers contain toxic ingredients, and disinfectants may cause disease-resistant bacteria. Just soap and water is effective and safe.

Have a great day! 🙂

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 4:32 pm

I’m really glad you like the post, Cheryl. It’s an interesting finding with the airborne aspect of the virus rather than contact, I saw that on the CDC website recently. I had to wonder how accurate it is though as otherwise nowhere would need to be giving out hand sanitiser, staff wouldn’t be wiping down credit card machines and the public would be told to keep washing their hands to prevent Covid. I don’t know, I’d like firmer evidence I suppose. You get this far in to the pandemic and it’s hard to see how you get back to ‘normal’ again. I do, however, LOVE the sound of not spending hours cleaning the groceries and wiping down the whole house constantly! ???? I’m one for hygiene anyway but to not go quite so hardcore on it would be good, if indeed it’s safe.

I’ve always thought there should have been greater emphasis on the airborne side of things in the UK. There are masses of people on the highstreet outside of shops pushing past you, shouting across you to friends on the other side of the road, turning and coughing in your direction… I’ve long since thought that was incredibly dangerous and that masks should have been enforced outside in busy areas. Or just tell people to stay quiet and keep to themselves, which’ll never happen. xx

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Julia Tannenbaum April 22, 2021 - 6:07 pm

Accepting that the pandemic is out of my control has been so hard but it’s also helped me focus on the things I still have control over and eased *some* of my stress. Thank you for this insightful post!

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 4:33 pm

I’m glad you’ve been able to find a bit of peace with the fact that much is out of your control by looking at the things you can do instead. It’s not easy, is it? I find it incredibly difficult. Go easy on yourself, Julia ????

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B April 22, 2021 - 6:53 pm

Regaining it, hopefully.

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 4:34 pm

Regaining the time spent on your mental health, I hope. Take good care of yourself, B ????

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ashleyleia April 22, 2021 - 6:58 pm

Great post, Caz. It will be interesting to see what changes (and doesn’t change) when this is finally over. Hopefully some of the good things we’ve learned will carry over, and we’ll leave behind some of the things that we’ve discovered weren’t working so well pre-pandemic.

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InvisiblyMe April 25, 2021 - 5:26 pm

You’re right, it’ll be interesting to see how the dust settles. I do hope some of the greater accessibility aspects last, although after lockdowns were previously lifted I noticed a lot of things suddenly stop (including live pub quizzes, which I thought were a great idea). Let’s hope some of the lessons learned can at least have a lasting positive impact. x

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Rachel Duerden April 23, 2021 - 10:03 am

I hope you look after your mental health more. ????

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 4:26 pm

Thanks, Rachel. I hope you give yourself the time to do the same ♥

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The Oceanside Animals April 24, 2021 - 6:29 pm

Lulu: “It sure is! The doorbell rings for deliveries, but nobody ever comes in to pet me or rub my belly, and I never get to go anywhere to visit people for pets and belly rubs.”
Charlee: “We’re quite enjoying it. The doorbell rings, but nobody ever comes in to bother us and make us hide under the sofa.”

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 4:28 pm

It’s a win/lose situation for you, two. Lulu, you’ll have to nag Dada for more belly rubs to make up for the shortfall so you don’t get withdrawal symptoms! x

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notesoflifeuk April 24, 2021 - 10:19 pm

I think my stress levels have risen during this time. There’s been so much uncertainty and sorrow.

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 4:38 pm

I’m sorry you’ve felt that, too. You’re right, lots of uncertainty and sorrow, and that can weigh on people very heavily over this prolonged period of time. Take good care of yourself, Nikki.xx

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Despite Pain April 25, 2021 - 12:33 pm

I think if anyone said they’ve not been stressed at some point during the pandemic, they’d be lying. You’ve highlighted so many aspects about it which have been stress inducing. The numbers are starting to improve here in the UK, but the thought of things returning to normal just seems too far away still. And then last night on the news, pictures of the protests in London were shown. My husband and I watched in horror. This will never get better at this rate.

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 4:43 pm

I’d have to think the same with everyone experiencing stress during this period, though there seem to be many who’ve gone about things as normal. I know a few people who’ve been saying what a wonderful time they’ve been having (which sparks my stress all the more!) But there are so many different situations and aspects that make this pandemic different for all of us, but I imagine there will be a majority experiencing these key issues from the research. I can’t imagine ‘normal’ life any more, as much as I feel desperate for it. As for the protests, don’t even get me started..! Oops, the Stress Level counter has broken ????

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magickmermaid April 25, 2021 - 11:53 pm

Excellent post!

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 4:44 pm

Thanks very muchly, I’m glad you like it ????

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forresting365 April 26, 2021 - 1:16 am

This is such a great post, Caz. SUCH crazy times…..and stressful, indeed. It’s hit everyone I know in different ways on different levels; but the common denominator is how STRESSFUL it’s been/is. I’m truly sorry You have all Your health issues You’re dealing with on top of all of this. That’s a crazy full plate. You’re amazing to write so eloquently and to share as You do! I wish You some restful, peaceful downtime here and there. Sending You HUGE hugs and lots of Love!!! Thank You! ????????????

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 6:43 pm

You’re right, it hits people in different ways on different levels, but it’s something that seems to have affected the vast majority during these difficult times. Thank you for your kindness, Katy; plenty of people have it worse than I do with their health, but I still struggle, as do many. I think our society makes out like we ‘should’ be able to cope brilliantly with things and stay positive all the time, but that’s not realistic. We’re only human. I hope you can find ways to look after YOU and make sure your wellbeing is prioritised too lovely. Sending hugs right back at’cha! ????????

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Jo (a Rose Tinted World) April 26, 2021 - 12:42 pm

So many things in this post ring true with me. The pandemic has really impacted my physical and mental health. I think there will be a lot of fallout from this for years.

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 10:41 pm

I’m sorry you feel the same, Jo. I’d agree with you there – the fallout could run deep and long after this. x

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chronicmom April 26, 2021 - 6:50 pm

Definitely 100% increased my stress level. It’s better thanks to the vaccine, but my kids still can’t be vaccinated so I’ll remain on high alert for a while.

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 11:18 pm

I’m glad the vaccinations have given you a little bit of relief and some degree of hope at least. I suppose it’ll be a while longer yet before we can take our foot of the gas and feel safer. xx

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Christy B April 26, 2021 - 6:58 pm

Disconnectiona and uncertainty are absolutely causing stress in the lives of people I know. They’re all ages, from kids to adults my age and seniors. I feel like we’re in a “hurry up and wait” situation and it goes on and on and… Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for helping us when we need you the most x

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InvisiblyMe April 26, 2021 - 11:38 pm

Absolutely – these elements of stress can affect anyone and everyone, and the situation just seems to go on and on. I suppose we always have to nurture that hope because this situation has to end eventually. We just need to hold on for long enough and do what we can to keep ourselves and loved ones safe. Not an easy time at all, that’s for sure. Take good care of yourself, Christy ????

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annieasksyou April 26, 2021 - 11:45 pm

Take good care of yourself, Caz! It’s certainly true that it’s hard to do the stress-relieving things you know about. Been there, done that—as the saying goes,

Annie xox

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InvisiblyMe April 30, 2021 - 11:04 am

Thank you lovely. It’s one of those “doctor heal thyself” moments, isn’t it? I hope you also find the time to look after yourself, Annie ???? xx

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trippingthroughtreacle April 27, 2021 - 9:54 am

Great post as ever Caz. I have definitely found this past year stressful, partly to do with happenings outside of the pandemic that seem 100% harder to deal wth simply due to the pandemic! Loneliness is a big part of it and the ability just to give someone a hug. I definitely make use of Zoom etc but that close interaction is so important and I’ve missed that.

The uncertainly also leads me to think all the time about how things will be when this is ‘over’, will things revert to what was before, will the changes that have benefitted me as a disabled person (eg. something as simple as the training I do for my job now being offered online) continue?

And I agree – I know what to do to relieve stress, I am just not that good at putting it into practice sometimes!! xxx

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Gemma April 28, 2021 - 11:20 pm

So pleased you’re raising awareness about stress and how to manage it Caz. It’s so important that we talk about it, now more than ever. I really don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by stress in some way over the past year, but I’m sure your uplifting and inspiring tips will help many people. I’m definitely working on trying to focus on what I can control rather than what I can’t but I still find this difficult at times. Also, you probably manage your stress better than you think Caz. Don’t do yourself down. 🙂

Gemma x

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Lindsay April 30, 2021 - 4:52 am

My level of stress has waivered dramatically during the pandemic. Some days I’m fine, and others I want to scream. I was very stressed for the first couple weeks (weren’t we all!!), not knowing what to expect, how long we would be home, whether myself or loved ones would get sick, whether I’d lose my job, etc. As time went on, I became familiar and comfortable with my new routine. But now I feel stressed again, as it feels like I have done nothing but wasted a year of my life, and I wonder if things will ever really be the same.

Great post, Caz!

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pugyoums May 1, 2021 - 10:56 pm

Beautifully said (written). I wonder about the PTSD that will most likely show itself also unfortunately. Hang tough! ♡

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