At the moment, many of us are dealing with more stress than we have previously.
We’re facing threats to our health and our employment and financial security. We’re also worried about loved ones and facing uncertainty over whether we can return to our familiar ways of life.
With such intense issues at play, it’s no surprise we are being inundated with advice to look after our mental health.
The USA’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said that public health instructions, including social distancing, can leave people feeling isolated and lonely, as well as increasing stress and anxiety.
Lack of contact with our loved ones will have an emotional impact on most people. And it’s not just that we have to contend with.
The economy is in dire straits – and expected to get worse. The chancellor’s recent announcement that 2.6 million people are expected to be out of work next year will likely not help to ease anyone’s worries.
Figures show that there are currently 1.6 million people not working, which is 300,000 more people than in 2019.
Consequences of stress
When you suffer from higher stress levels, you might find yourself distracted or preoccupied. This could lead to greater chances of mistakes or errors in judgement, which could then lead to accidents happening and injuries being suffered.
The Health and Safety Executive has produced research looking into the link between stress and psychological ill health at work, stating that “some evidence exists of an association between experiencing ‘stress’ and an increased risk of accident involvement (in particular when driving)”.
It also concluded that “an individual’s frame of mind has an impact on task performance and on safety,” explaining that the way someone is feeling or thinking can “cause or contribute to them having an accident, behaving unsafely or committing an error or mistake”.
And that’s not all. Stress can affect your immune system, according to the NHS – the one part of our health we’re all desperate to protect right now.
Dealing with stress
There is no collective solution to handling stress. Everyone has their own way of dealing with it. But what is universal is that long-term heightened stress levels are not good for us and our physical and mental health.
The long-term consequences of this pandemic will only come to light in the future. But it is unlikely that these increased stress levels will lead to many positive results.
Ultimately, there is no cure for stress. So it falls to the individual to do what they can to mitigate it in order to keep themselves – and those around them – as healthy and as safe as possible.
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