Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Secondary Stress

Mitigating the Adverse Effects of Secondary Stress

We’ve been through a lot recently and are seeing a flurry of big changes. We therefore continue to recognize that this is a highly stressful time for everyone in the WAB community. We are all trying our best to maintain high spirits while re-establishing the norm we are so used to in setting up remote learning, managing work-home balance, and caring for our family.

Common Reactions

It is normal for us to feel frustrated or scared by the volatile situation we find ourselves in. You may find yourself falling into the trap of constantly trolling for the breaking news update, tracking the number of coronavirus cases, or following the ever-changing policies.

Secondary Stress

As the pandemic continues to be an additional stressor in our life, it is essential to be aware of secondary stress, which is the emotional duress that comes from indirect exposure to difficult, disturbing, or traumatic images and stories of the suffering of others.

We all react to and cope with stress differently, but repeated exposure to challenging content can negatively impact our functioning and overall health. Anyone in all stages of life can experience secondary stress. If, as adults, we are stressed out by what we see and hear, our children can also adopt and reflect our stress level.

Here are some tips to mitigate these adverse effects:

  • Self-reflection: Take a moment to “check-in” with yourself and your children daily. Notice any changes in mood, behavior, and emotion. Ask yourself if it may be related to the news and social media. Being aware of secondary stress is a sign of emotional maturity and strength.
  • Be critical of media sources: When talking to children about the news, put the threat/risk in perspective and focus on safety measures that are in place to protect them.
  • Talk it out: All of us could use some support in this challenging time. Talking with a counselor, colleague, or friend is an opportunity to share and process your experience with someone you trust who can understand, give support, and offer their perspective.
  • Self-care: We cannot stress enough the importance of self-care. Get enough sleep, regular exercise, nutritious food, meditate, pray, read, play games, or whatever you do to replenish your mental energy. Going outside for a walk (in the sun) can be a great way to destress.
  • Relaxation strategies: If you have difficulty sleeping at night or experience moments of panic during the day, here are some simple deep breathing exercises, grounding activities, and muscle relaxation routines to try.

As we navigate this challenging time together, let’s focus on our holistic health and maintain a positive mindset. If you or your child are experiencing significant changes in sleeping, eating, or personal care routine due to secondary stress, please contact our counseling team for other stress management strategies. We are here to help.