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AMU APU Health & Fitness Mental Health Original

Improving Your Stress Management during the Pandemic

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By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
Faculty Member, Criminal Justice

The coronavirus pandemic has created uncertainty and a tremendous amount of stress in the lives of people in the United States and around the world. Unemployment, the fear of getting sick, social distancing and the resulting economic recession is causing anxiety in a lot of people.

In fact, a study in the United States found that 53% of adults reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress over the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has been credited with causing difficulty sleeping or eating, increases in alcohol consumption or substance abuse, and worsening chronic conditions.

In addition, there has been a sharp increase in calls for emergency services involving drug overdoses and deaths and mental issues, according to the National EMS Information System. The Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) has also warned that the coronavirus pandemic may exacerbate the risk of suicide and that data from recent studies shows that there is an increase in distress, anxiety, violence, and feelings of loss, which are factors known to increase suicidal ideation.

The Pandemic Has Obstructed Stress-Relieving Activities

One of the factors that has created difficulty in stress management during this pandemic is that the regular activities that someone may use to relieve stress may not be possible due to restrictions and social distancing. For instance, going out with friends, working out at a gym, hanging out at a local bar, indoor dining at a restaurant, attending concerts and vacationing are common forms of stress management that have all been impacted by the pandemic.

Several Steps to Reduce Stress during the Pandemic

There are several steps that we can take to reduce stress during the pandemic. One of the most important is to limit the time spent watching media to reduce feelings of anxiety. While one should remain informed, watching news channels that supply hour-after-hour coverage of the pandemic is not helpful. Limiting exposure to the news to no more than twice a day and avoiding the news before going to sleep may be useful.

Remaining engaged with family and friends is equally vital. If it is not safe to be together in person, remaining in contact via Zoom or FaceTime and frequent communication can reduce feelings of stress. It is also important to eat a healthy diet and to get proper rest.

Many people are now working remotely due to the pandemic. But working remote presents its own challenges, which can add to your feelings of stress.

Be sure to set up a workspace within your home that is free of distractions and offers the technology you need to get work done without stress. Using the same space on a regular basis to work is helpful in establishing a routine.

Other beneficial ways to reduce stress include:

  • Using noise-cancelling headphones in homes where children or other people are present
  • Reducing social isolation by video communications with coworkers and supervisors
  • Getting outdoors and away from the house when you can do so safely is important
  • Developing new routines that provide down time for activities to relieve stress

We can’t be certain when the pandemic will end, and it has likely impacted all of us differently. But we should monitor each other for indicators of tension and distress that are occurring during the pandemic and take proactive measures to counter stress.

There have been some positive outcomes from this pandemic, however. Reduced traffic, shorter commutes, short lines at most take-out restaurants, more time spent at home with family and the increased use of telemedicine are some factors in our lives that have improved since the onset of the pandemic.

About the Author

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor at the university and has over two decades in the field of homeland security. He has 11 years of online higher education experience. His expertise includes human trafficking, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction, and intelligence gathering. Jarrod recently conducted in-country research in Central and South America on human trafficking and current trends in narcotics trafficking. He has served as a consultant and speaker to the key stakeholders in law enforcement, defense forces, and criminal justice in Belize on the topics of human trafficking and drug trafficking.

In late 2020, Jarrod served as a consultant for the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime on human trafficking and organized crime in Central America. His contributions will be reflected on the worldwide Organized Crime Index that will be published in 2021. His research on drug trafficking was published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report in 2019.

Most recently, Jarrod presented at the 2020 International Human Trafficking Conference where he presented his research on human trafficking in South America. He has engaged in speaking engagements in the United States, Central America, and Europe on the topics of human trafficking, narcotics trafficking, police responses to domestic terrorism, and various topics in policing. Jarrod can be reached through his website at www.Sadulski.com for consulting and speaking engagements.

Dr. Jarrod Sadulski is an associate professor in the School of Security and Global Studies at APU. Jarrod was selected as the Coast Guard’s Reserve McShan Inspirational Leadership Award recipient for 2019. His expertise includes infrastructure security, maritime security, homeland security contraband interdiction and intelligence gathering.

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