Coping with stress during the COVID-19 pandemic

—Focus on opportunities rather than challenges

DPI, Guyana, Friday, July 10, 2020

The scale and unpredictability of the COVID-19 pandemic have been stressful for many people. The fear of contracting the disease, the loss of steady income and necessary confinement have increased stress and anxiety.

Psychologist and lecturer at the University of Guyana, Wil Campbell defines stress as a physiological response to changing demand. Appearing on the fourth instalment of Social Cohesion in Action, Campbell said the requirement to wear face masks and social distance are examples of current stressors.

He further differentiated between good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). “Eustress stems from a positive environment such as moving into a new home, while distress originates from a negative environment like the current pandemic.”

Campbell advised that the key to coping with stress is determining how we will respond. “Everything starts with how we think. I believe the foundation for coping with stress is learning to see the cup as half full rather than half empty,” he said.

Focusing on the opportunities that can be derived from the situation rather than the challenges he advised will allow for a reduction of stress levels.

Additionally, Campbell advised regulating the amount of information gathered from the news. “By now, we don’t need to be paying attention to the negative aspects of COVID-19. We already know what we need to do – sanitise and wash hands carefully, wear face masks, eat healthily to boost our immune systems, and practice social distancing. Doing these things can ease our stress because we are doing something about the issue.”

The psychologist further underscored that staying connected with positive people who add value to your life and focusing on the opportunities rather than the challenges presented by COVID-19 can promote positivity and reduce stress.