The Impact of Stress- Pre and Post Pandemic World

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Within a week, millions went home to shelter in place for what they thought would be a few weeks, in an attempt to stop the spread of the virus. However, the lockdowns, restrictions, and continued social distancing lasted for months (or longer) as the pandemic wreaked havoc on healthcare systems, the economy, and supply chains around the world. 


Despite the rollout of vaccinations and lower positive COVID-19 tests, fewer hospitalizations, and lower deaths rates, the pandemic continues to impact the world pushing mental health to a breaking point. Although the pandemic has triggered an array of physical, economic, and emotional issues, in the midst of this crisis, mental health professionals around the world have shared and learned from each other’s experiences.


The Impact of COVID-19 on Mental Health in the UAE

A cross-sectional web-based research study conducted by the University of Sharjah, Zayed University, and the United Arab Emirates University on the psychological impact of Covid-19 in the UAE found more than a third of participants felt their mental health had deteriorated during the pandemic. Of the 4,426 people who responded to a survey, 36 percent reported the pandemic increased stress and anxiety related to work, home life, and finances. Additionally, 27 percent of the participants felt severe psychological stress, and approximately 63 percent said they felt horrified, helpless or apprehensive.

The sheer magnitude and length of the pandemic caused many people to experience unprecedented levels of stress and anxiety. Aside from the very real fear of contracting the virus, or a loved one contracting the virus, and the potential for death, people all over the world grappled with secondary stressors associated with the virus (such as unemployment or transitioning to remote work, home schooling, lack of child care, and frontline worker fatigue)to name a few. 


What is Stress?

prolonged periods of stress and mental problems

In its simplest form, stress is the feeling of being overwhelmed or unable to cope with mental or emotional pressure. Stress is a normal reaction that happens to everyone. In fact, our body is designed to experience and react to stress. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert to danger or positive during challenging times. However, prolonged periods of stress can cause long term physical and mental problems, including:

  • Chronic pain
  • Exhaustion or difficulty sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts


A Heightened Risk for Anxiety and Depression

The COVID‑19 crisis heightened the risk factors generally associated with mental health challenges (i.e., fear, loss, unemployment, financial insecurity) while simultaneously diminishing protective factors (i.e., employment, educational engagement, social connections, access to physical fitness, daily routine, and access to health services). This combination during a long period of instability has created a global mental health crisis. 

Additionally, individuals who suffered from the virus also experienced prolonged mental health challenges after their physical recovery from the virtus. A recent Lancet Psychiatry publication showed that approximately one in three individuals develop symptoms of stress or anxiety within six months of contracting and recovering from a Covid-19 infection.


Managing Stress After the Pandemic

managing stress after the pandemic

As they strive to achieve a sense of normalcy and work towards life after the pandemic, many people are struggling with going back to “business as usual.” For some, managing stress is as simple as finding time to relax and unwind. Whether it’s through meditation, exercise, reading a book, or taking a break from the source of stress, many people are able to deal with their stress and move past it. However, others struggle with finding ways to manage their stress and they may require professional help. 


Whether real or perceived, when left untreated, these feelings can negatively impact your mental health, physical health, relationships, and happiness. Psychotherapy can help you on your path to living a life free of excessive worry and anxiety. At Be Psychology Center, we create custom-tailored treatment plans to help our clients identify, manage, and mitigate their anxiety. 


reem shaheen counseling psychologist


Reem Shaheen – LMHC