In coaching and counseling numerous individuals, I have noticed that more people are blaming others, easily angered, seeing things in black and white and having difficulty conversing with people who have a different viewpoint. There is also increased stigma for those with mental health disorders.
This pattern seems to match up with our contentious political season and the fallout of the pandemic. There is a human tendency to devalue ideas that are counter to one’s own. Additionally, the 24-hour news cycle is focused on the most negative angle that they can dig up. The brain is wired to respond to negative stimuli, which is what the news taps into. The cumulative factor of which Dr. Steve Stonsy, Ph.D. refers to as, “Election Stress Disorder.”
A group of researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Harvard Medical School reported that 55% of people are more stressed now than they were earlier this year due to the various cultural disruptions.
So, how can we help people with this unprecedented amount of stress and uncertainty?
Some of the biggest frustrations surrounding COVID 19 include; the disconnect from normal activities and routine, financial stress related to job loss and social isolation. Children and teens are missing their friends and young adults are experiencing changes in higher learning with increasing concerns about the job market.
A Few Tips for Coping During the Pandemic
Now is a good time to take stock of our lives and use any extra free time to connect with our true values. It is also a time to focus on forming meaningful connections, even if they have to be over Zoom. When we are interacting with others, can we listen more deeply? Perhaps we would benefit from trying to focus on their concerns and staying away from conversations regarding which candidate they support.
It’s also important to normalize that we are all experiencing increased stress right now. It’s crucial to practice being compassionate with yourself, if you are struggling to cope.
This year has brought many unforeseen changes, however doing the best you can to engage in self-care and being gentle towards others is the best way to get through these tough times and PS….don’t forget to vote.
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.