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Keeping connected with family, friends, helps with stress

Although people can leave their homes under certain circumstances during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order limits people to what they can do in the “outside world.”

That’s understandable. Numbers have to go down before normal everyday life can be resumed and even then, it has to be slowly.

For people who can work at home, or for those who are furloughed or laid off and spend a lot of time at home, there can be a plus side. Employees can work at their leisure in the comfort of their dens or home work space, caress their pets when they like or take a timeout to watch a favorite television show, avoiding the news if that is too stressful.

Still, people are social creatures and the ongoing stay-at-home lifestyle can be trying, and more so the longer it continues.

People miss going to their favorite restaurants, movies, gyms, and, in the city of Marquette, city parks. They miss going to meetings and gatherings of people.

They can attend meetings via Zoom or connect with friends and loved ones on the phone, by email or on FaceTime or Skype. It’s not the same, though, as person-to-person connection.

Could they come down with so-called cabin fever? Perhaps, in certain situations.

Mining Journal medical columnist Dr. Jim Surrell opines frequently on health topics. In his Tuesday column, he noted that people face additional stress, which he called a normal response to the worldwide pandemic.

Stress, he says, is defined as “a state of mental or emotional strain or tension on a person that may result from facing adverse or very demanding circumstances.”

Being cooped in at home and having to abide by the 6-foot social distancing rule in public maybe isn’t as demanding for some people as others, but it’s definitely adverse.

Short-term stress is common, but what about long-term stress?

Long-term stress can be harmful to our health, Surrell says, because it could cause people to experience headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger or irritability, and over time, continued strain on people’s bodies from stress could contribute to more serious health problems.

People can manage stress, he says, by recognizing the signs of stress, talking with their health providers and, when possible, getting exercise.

It also requires a certain mindset, Surrell says. People need to prioritize their goals and be mindful of what they have accomplished at the end of the day, not what they failed to do.

However, we realize the stay-at-home order makes it more challenging to keep in touch with people. This is important, though, to overcome the unique type of stress we now feel.

So, we urge people to keep reaching out in some way. Even the sound of a loved one’s voice on the phone can be a real pick-me-up.

This isn’t going to last forever.

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