COVID cases have decreased.
We are able to do more “normal” things.
Things are “better.”
So why do I feel MORE stressed?
We aren’t really more stressed, we are more AWARE of all the burdens, pressure, work, and responsibilities we are carrying around. As the intensity of COVID, that weight we’ve carried around, lessens we are slightly lighter. Yet because we’ve entered year 3, many feel overwhelmed, at the end of our rope, exhausted, worse.
Have you ever been the driver on a road trip with a car full of people (or alone) and the sky opens in a blinding rain storm? The wipers can’t keep up. There’s no safe place to pull over. You can barely see the road or the lane lines. The tail lights ahead of you are the only beacons that help orient you. Your hands are gripped on the wheel and you are so focused on safely getting to your destination, you need everyone or everything else to be quiet. The downpour lasts a long time, miles and miles.
Finally, the rain begins to lessen and you can see again. You realize your knuckles are white and you feel exhausted. The trip isn’t yet over, though it’s become easier. No, not really easier, just safer. But you’ve used up all your reserves! You become irritable perhaps, see things in a more negative light rather than relief. You have run out of coping skills; they have drained away.
If it’s just a road trip, a good meal and night’s rest may be all you need to be restored. But with two long years of stress, I’m seeing a lot of people who need a bit more. But why now? Just as when someone is deeply depressed, they are incapacitated and unable to ask for or seek help, when the depression lightens just a bit, they become able to reach out. I think that’s what is happening now.
You may realize that you had to put some things on hold and perhaps some situations have worsened with family, friends, self-care, home, work, etc. You may feel overwhelmed, sad, headaches, high blood pressure, frustration, depressed.…
If so, I am here to help. Just text, call, or email me. I would be happy to hear from you. Together we can get through whatever it is.
Director of the St. Paul's Center for Counseling & Education