Stress during the time of Covid19
Mick Amundsen-Geisel, High School Counselor
15 September 2020
Everyone at various times in our lives experiences stress, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, fear and worry.
“As social beings, humans tend to rely on support systems built around friends, family and their communities. In-person social interactions are proven to increase the flow of positive hormones to our brain and help us live longer. However, these systems are built over long periods of time. The lockdown norms have thus had a negative impact on these coping systems, rendering them less efficient against stress (How Corona Virus is Affecting Our Mental Health).” Thus, our experiences of restrictions during this time of COVID-19 may intensify our feelings and leave us with fewer outlets which we usually use to take care of ourselves.
It is no wonder that mental health experts predict a rise in levels of loneliness, depression, harmful alcohol and drug use, and self-harm or suicidal behaviors (Mental Health and COVID-19). As a school counselor, my concern for the mental health status of individuals in our community has risen, especially because it is more challenging to “discover” when a someone might need support (because they are unable to interact with others in-person on a daily basis) and difficult to work with an individual virtually (they can more easily avoid support being offered).
However, there is hope. First, there are two things we can do as individuals:
- Identify signs of stress – Use the tools developed through mindfulness. Be aware, on a daily basis, the levels of stress, anxiety, loneliness, sadness, etc we are feeling. There are some good digital tools that exist that can also help us identify signs of stress. Wysa is a mental health chat box that can help users manage their mental health. TrustCircle uses AI-driven Social Emotional Learning programmes to self-reflect, keep a journal and help to recognise and manage one’s emotions.
- Seek help – School counselors and community therapists are available for extra support when signs of stress become very intense, when stress levels interfere with our daily activity or when unhealthy coping mechanisms are being used. School counselors and community therapists are confidential – meaning, what you tell us we ethically cannot tell others. The exceptions to this are when you have or plan to harm yourself or others and when you report abuse or neglect. In the cases when we have to share information with outside parties in order to give you more support, we strive to do this in a way that includes you in that process.
Second, ISY is making every effort to support students and families during this stressful time, including:
- Teaching Mindfulness – We are actively teaching students to become increasingly aware of their feelings and thinking and finding ways to take care of themselves.
- An adjusted timetable – Students have more time to find ways to socialize, engage in activities they enjoy and to take the extra time sometimes needed to learn new concepts.
- Asking for feedback – We want to know what the student, teacher and family experience has been so we can make adjustments or implement changes that will be helpful and compassionate.
- Reaching out – Office staff, teachers, counselors and administrators are reaching out to individual students, families, staff, small groups of students and whole classes to help us all connect with one another. If we discover a student or family is extremely stressed, there is support that we can offer.
Staying connected as a community is key, even when doing so is challenging. Recognizing how you are feeling and how it is affecting you is helpful. Reaching out to someone and talking about your experience can make a huge difference.
Stay Safe. Stay Connected.
Lessons learned from a first year university student struggling with anxiety and depression.
QuaranTeens – Experiences from real-life teens during quarantine
Three Components of Connectedness
How to Take Care of Your Mental Health During COVID
Positive Mental Health During COVID
The International School Yangon
20 Shwe Taungyar Street
+95 1 512 793 /94 /95