WHEN STRESS DOESN'T STOP: THE REAL COST OF UNRELENTING STRESS IN OUR LIVES
When you take a world-wide killer pandemic and mix it with the rage of violent social injustice, you get a situation that is terrifying and out of control. When you add a mixture of political maneuverings and internecine warfare between political parties and candidates, you create an explosion of lethal experiences that are almost unstoppable.
We are now living in a time of unparalleled stress and anxiety matched by an overabundance of rage. This combination is not good for anyone, but it is particularly felt by the most vulnerable in our world: our children, our young adults and those who are in the aging process. We are now adding new populations to the list of people who are profoundly affected by the times in which we are living. The American Psychological Association recently brought us new statistics to document what is happening in the world today as a result of uninterrupted and powerful exposure to anxiety and stress.
In their list of “Six things Psychologists Are Talking About”, June 4, 2020, three items need to be addressed immediately:
- “One Third of Americans now show signs of clinical anxiety or depression”. New data from the Census Bureau indicate that “for every 100 American adults, 34 show symptoms of anxiety, depression or both, a substantial uptick from before the pandemic, according to an article in The Washington Post. Certain symptoms of depression are being reported as double what they were in a 2014 national survey.”
- “As COVID-19 cases increase, so does trauma among Health Providers.” “Front-line health-care workers are experiencing panic, paranoia, suicidality and early indicators of post-traumatic stress disorder, according to psychologists counseling them. We’re dealing with an omnipresent, continuing threat,” says Seattle psychologist Laura S. Brown, Ph.D. “This isn’t post traumatic yet because the trauma piece is still ongoing.”
- “COVID-19 impacts children’s mental health; causes depression and anxiety in health-care workers. Social isolation is linked to inflammation; higher suicide risks exist for nurses and more.”
We are beginning to see the effects of these powerful stressors on our health care teams: the people we most need to help us with our medical needs and stressors. This means that our families, our co-workers, and our churches are filled with people who are silently suffering from growing mental health problems that are not being addressed. It also means that many of us in the helping professions are suffering from the same disorders.
What do you do when you start to feel the symptoms of depression?
To whom do you turn when you find yourself suddenly immersed in anger?
What steps are you taking for your own mental health?
We are going to be in the throes of powerful forces of rage, injustice, grief, and depression for the unforeseen future. At the same time, we also represent the reality and the constancy of God in the world, especially in times like these.
Our challenge is to enable people to experience the reality of God in their lives and what that means in the midst of these powerful and universal crises. It also requires us to know and to live out that reality in our own lives.
What makes God “real” in your life?
What role does the religious institution best play in this time of crisis?
How can we work together to address these powerful crises of survival for all people?
The universality of the situation has now given us a very real point of connection and an urgency of action that demands our attention.
What we cannot do is to ignore it.