5 New 'Second Wave' COVID-19 Stressors We’re Facing — and 5 Signs They’re Affecting You

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May 22, 2024 at 1:13AM UTC
As the world is adapting to what is now the “new normal,” Fairygodboss wants to be there for you every step of the way. Keep reading for timely advice and join our Navigating the New Normal group for continued support.
After weeks of social isolation and adjusting to the uncertainties of COVID-19, we're beginning to move into a decidedly different stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. In the last week or so, I've had more and more conversations with friends, family and colleagues about the new stressors popping up in their lives. If you've felt a strange sense of unease in the last week, there are plenty of under-the-surface reasons that may explain why. 

For starters, our newly normal routines are being forced to change, once again, as some areas begin to reopen — or as we anticipate our states reopening. 

Beyond adjusting to the new mechanics of a new routine — for instance, maybe you'll start going into work again — many people are attempting to adjust to the anxiety presented by these reopenings. Many people — up to 54% — are uncomfortable going back into work. Some believe it's a disservice to public health to reopen so soon, while others see it as economic salvation. 

That leads to the next huge change we're all adjusting to in this 'next normal': There's less of a feeling of togetherness this time around. 

While at the beginning of shut downs there was a feeling of communal effort and support, how COVID-19 is being handled is an increasingly polarizing topic. Families, roommates, friends and colleagues may be feeling new stress on their relationships as they disagree on what's right. There may be increased anxiety and grief around how other groups are handling (or refusing to handle) reopening. 

Parents are adjusting not only to changes to their routine and mental health, but also major changes to children's schedules. 

As school years come to a close, parents are having to readjust routines without the reality (or, in many cases, facade) of daily school work to provide structure. Older students, like high schoolers and college students, will require extra support from their parents as they adjust to having a lack of daily distractions and mourn missed spring and summer opportunities. Others will need support managing new jobs or internships online. 

On top of all of this, months in, we are still managing the lack of certainty around what the rest of 2020 looks like. 

While there have been major advancements in the treatment of COVID-19 and in the development of a vaccine, there's no clear answer around the corner of what we're all going to be doing come December. While I once thought the uncertainty would become easier to manage, for me, it's become a harder pill to swallow as the days and weeks tick by. 
The future of the economy remains cloudy, presenting continued stress for those who are currently unemployed. And still others are continuing to lose their jobs, joining almost 15% of Americans in filing for unemployment

The novelty of working from home or setting new routines has worn off, the restlessness has settled in and the changing of seasons reminds us that we're still inside. 

In fact, psychologists suggest that feelings of restlessness only get worse from time, so if you're feeling more grated now than ever, that's understandable. 
In 400 words, I've meant to say this: There are many reasons we may be feeling a new sense of stress and you're not alone. Here are a few signs this stress is affecting you in new ways and how to manage them: 

1. You finding it harder to connect with your friends, family or colleagues. 

One sign you're suffering from stress? You're finding it difficult to connect with the people in your life. If you find yourself lashing out at family and friends, or shuffling away from Zoom calls with an sad cloud hovering around your head, you may be struggling with stress management. We've heard it all before, but try to slot in more alone time. Drop some Zoom calls with friends or family, cancel unnecessary professional calls and spend some time away from your social isolation crew. Use this time to practice mindfulness. If a call is necessary, try keeping the conversation away from anything upsetting if your direct support is not needed and you're not feeling up to it. 

2. You're suffering from restlessness or feeling overwhelmed.

If you're feeling completely overwhelmed by new changes or feeling restless in anticipation of change, try to re-deploy the coping mechanisms you've been leaning on during this process to manage your stress. Whether that's mindfulness, exercise or talking it out with a professional or friend, there are ways to manage the overwhelm. Remind yourself that everyone is adjusting — there's no 'right' way to do something so unprecedented — and that you are allowed to just take it one day at a time. 

3. You're feeling fatigued or low energy. 

This is a side-effect I've seen everywhere. If you're feeling super drowsy or fatigued or just going through the days very low energy, your body may be working overtime to manage stress. Allow yourself to rest when you need to  — and try to rest your mind even more. While we all should be keeping up with the news, limit your exposure to once or twice a day. Plan in 'blank mind' times — a way more fun label for meditation — to refresh your brain. And try to limit your feelings of guilt when you don't get something done due to your energy levels. Like we've been saying, you're dealing with something right now.

4. You've been excessively worrying about the future. 

Sometimes stress manifests itself just like that — as stress. If you are having running thoughts about the future, find times where you let yourself rest. Get your mind of COVID and its impacts by limiting your consumption of news and social media (especially the acquaintances who make you upset). Do a distracting exercise or yoga. Talk with a friend about something completely unrelated. 

5. You're exhibiting other physical signs of stress.

Nausea, muscle aches, chest pain and headaches can all be physical signs of stress. If your stress has been affecting your day-to-day health, consider seeing a medical professional, especially if your self-care and mindfulness practices are proving ineffective. 

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