Singapore announced that the Republic would be entering into Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) from 16 May 2021 with a slew of restrictions, while familiar to us, created ripple effects felt within the individual, in the family/social settings, and across the nation.
Although there might be different emotions, thoughts, and responses that have surfaced because of the announcement, it is without a doubt that this might have resulted in some underlying, both covert and overt, stress for everyone.
Some of us might face the stress of working from home or managing school-going children’s home-based learning (HBL) in addition to juggling an already full plate of responsibilities.
Others might be experiencing anxiety brought about by being placed on Stay-Home Notice or a Quarantine Order due to a possible close contact who tested positive for COVID-19.
Some of us might be struggling to manage our debilitating mental health or physical conditions that are present, even without the existence of the Coronavirus.
What is Stress?
Stress is a common and normal reaction and feeling that arises when one feels overwhelmed and unable to cope with the pressures and demands from the situations and events that are taking place around.
When we encounter stress, our body produces stress hormones, that trigger a fight or flight response and allow us to be more alert for a period – this stress response allows us to respond quickly to dangerous situations.
Sometimes, this stress response can be helpful as it prepares our body and mind to push through the stressful situation, i.e., a work presentation, an upcoming examination. Once the event is over, our stress hormones will normally go back to normal levels. However, too much stress can result in a constant heightened state of being in a fight or flight mode, often leaving us overwhelmed and unable to cope.
What causes stress?
Every individual experiences and manages stress differently. What might be enjoyable for one person might be a stressful situation for another person.
For example, some people might enjoy Working from Home (WFH) for various reasons, however, it might cause extreme stress for others who might have a less than conducive home environment to produce the same amount of work quality that is expected of them.
Stress can be caused by a major event or a built-up of smaller events. The amount of stress that you experience may depend on various factors such as:
- Your perception of the situation
- Your ability to cope in that type of situation (i.e., knowing what to do and how to handle the situation)
- The presence of other simultaneous pressures or demands on you
- The amount of control you feel over the situation
- Whether the situation was expected or unexpected
- The amount of support you are receiving
How to deal (better) with stress?
There are many ways to manage our stress. While there might not be a “one-size-fits-all” method, here are some methods you can try to manage your stress.
- List down the possible triggers for your stress
- Separate them into categories – things that I can do something about, things that will get better naturally, things I cannot do anything about
- Increase your sense of control by focusing on the triggers you can improve by making small and manageable bite-size goals to tackle the issues/situations.
- Recognize when your stress is causing a problem for you
- Awareness and attunement to your physical body and emotions would help you identify a possible stress reaction early, which then leads to early intervention and management of the stress.
- Build supportive relationships
- People who can provide practical and helpful advice, people who are able to provide some emotional support, etc.
- Get adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition
- Cut down on smoking and drinking alcohol – while these might provide temporary and immediate relief, they often make problems worse and increase stress/anxiety.
- Review your tasks – Are you able to delegate some tasks to others? Prioritise what is urgent as much as possible, to relieve yourself of the multiple demands on you.
- To do things that you enjoy
- To plan the day/week – gives you some mental clarity about the tasks you are intending to tackle for the day/week.
- To review at the end of the day/week – provides clarity on what was done well and what can improve with some tweaks.
- Be kind to yourself
- We are all humans trying to do our best in every situation. Spare some time to affirm yourself when you manage to complete a task and encourage yourself when it is challenging.
- Beware of the critical voice within yourself and choose kindness.
- Reach out
- Get Professional Help – attending therapy does not mean you are a failure or inadequate. In fact, seeking therapy early would provide a space to process the confusion that might be brought about with stress. It can also help you work on methods to cope more effectively.
1. Mental Health Foundation. 2021. Stress. Retrieved May 24, 2021, from https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/s/stress#:~:text=Stress%20is%20the%20feeling%20of,with%20mental%20or%20emotional%20pressure.
2. Mind.org. 2021. Stress. Retrieved May 24, 2021, from https://www.mind.org.uk/media-a/2959/stress-2017.pdf