By: Natalie Parker, Lead Intake Specialist – We’ve reached over a year now in the pandemic. However, for me, it has felt like it has been several years due to the increase in anxiety and stress. In the recent year, I have experienced my stress and anxiety increase steadily, sometimes making it hard to sleep and focus. I know I am not alone; according to Boals and Banks, this is a normal response to the pandemic. Many are feeling an increased level of stress, anxiety, and depression (2020).
In Stress and Cognitive Functioning During a Pandemic: Thoughts from Stress Researchers, Adriel Boals from the University of North Texas and Jonathan Banks from Nova Southeastern University, explain that “the recent increases in stress and anxiety are likely impacting cognitive functioning” (2020). They explain that “there is an abundance of research demonstrating the deleterious effects of stress and anxiety on cognitive functioning” through mind wandering and trouble staying focused (2020). To help decrease the levels of stress and anxiety one is feeling, Boals and Banks suggest journaling, mindfulness training, exercising, and spending time doing something that makes you happy.
One way to lessen the levels of stress and anxiety is to refocus and participate in a hobby that makes you happy and you enjoy.
One of the things I’ve always enjoyed doing is playing board games with friends and family. With social distancing, this makes it difficult to do outside of my household. I have always enjoyed reading but have had trouble focusing on a book. Then, I thought about starting a new hobby, but was unsure what to do. I found myself scrolling through videos and how-to tutorials on social media. Soon, I found something that interested me: refurbishing furniture.
At first, I started out small and worked on pieces I already owned such as a nightstand and a dresser. I found that I really enjoyed this new hobby and moved to doing pieces for other people including a dresser as a birthday present for my sister. I now work on this hobby on the weekends and sometimes after work. As a result, I find myself feeling less stressed, able to focus more at work, and I can sleep better. Along with therapy, I think this hobby has helped me to not only keep busy, but also lessen my stress and anxiety during this pandemic.
To help lessen your stress and anxiety, try out a new hobby. You might surprise yourself and find a hobby that makes you happy. For additional help with stress and anxiety relief, reach out to EAC at 1-800-227-0905 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Boals, Adriel, and Jonathan B. Banks. “Stress and cognitive functioning during a pandemic: Thoughts from stress researchers.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 12.S1(2020): S255.