Acute Stress Reaction and Tips on Dealing with It

2020. What a year it is for everyone.

When I was growing up, I was told that 2020 is a year where our country will become a fully developed nation. We drew on our imagination and think 2020 is going to be awesome! Flying car, modern public transport, technology driven nation, competitive economy and health sector to name a few.  We did actually manage to achieve some of the vision.

Come 2020, everyone is gearing up for a new decade with new ambition. But no one realizes we are going to face one of the most difficult years since our nation attained independence – COVID 19 pandemic. According to WHO, at least 100 million people have been infected with this virus and more than 2 million deaths have been recorded worldwide. We were forced to change our lifestyle, wear masks everywhere, hand hygiene to be practiced regularly, meetings to be conducted virtually, movement and economy activity is restricted and etcetera. Hence, increasingly people are face an uphill task just to survive during this pandemic time and some have resorted to violence. 

Here are some of the statistic that shows how COVID 19 has negatively impact on our social life: 

  1. In Selangor alone, 252 domestic violence cases have been reported since the beginning of MCO. 
  2. 266 suicide cases has been reported since MCO begin. 
  3. Unemployment rate surge to 4.6% in September 2020, compared to 3.3% in the same month last year. 
  4. In Johor, 2625 divorce cases have been reported since MCO. 

Based on the statistics, it is safe to say more and more people are getting stressed and have to cope with the change in  lifestyle. Some might be able to cope while others may react negatively to the challenge of this new norm. Therefore, in this article I will explore more on acute stress reactions and how actually we can cope and act reasonably while having stress issues. 

What is an acute stress reaction? 

When something is fearful or threatening occurs, most people have a fight or flight response. It’s either you confront or flee from the threat. It is usually accompanied by a spike in heart rate, breathing rate, tensing of muscle, as well as feeling sweaty. A more extreme case of acute stress reaction which can prove to be fatal may occur if a single mother of 2 children were not able to work due to the pandemic, she becomes more stressed and anxious. Hence, she decided to drink a cup of detergent laundry without understanding possible consequences from her behaviour. This is what we call an acute stress reaction. 

How to cope with an acute stress reaction?

There are multiple positive ways we can try to cope with stress:

  1. Find an anchor for this painful period: That is find something that keeps you grounded and makes you feel safe. This may be being next to the loved one, envisioning a future goal you want to hold on to, listening to your favourite music, just to name a few. 
  2. Practice self-soothing technique: For instance, repeat a positive affirmation ‘I’m not the awful things that my brain is telling me, I am stronger than depression, watching your favourite TV shows, put on some essential oils and practice deep breathing. 
  3. Focus on this moment: How can you feel a little better? How can you feel a little safer? How can you feel a little bit more comfortable? 
  4. Reach out to the loved one: This will help you feel less alone and more comforted. If you do not have a loved one to reach out to, visualise your role model or someone that inspires you – what would they say to motivate and empower you in this moment? 
  5. Acceptance and commitment therapy: Russ Harris, one of the renowned trainers of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy has come up with the following mneumonic –  FACE COVID. 

F: FOCUS > Focus on what we can control

A: ACKNOWLEDGE > Acknowledge what is in your mind and your feeling to it. 

C: COME > Come back to your usual self

E: ENGAGE > Engage with what you are doing at the moment

C: COMMITTED > Give full commitment on what you are doing at the moment

O: OPENING UP > Open up some space for unwanted thought 

Above might be a few tips that some may find useful to deal with an acute stress reaction. Mental health is equally important to our general health. So keep yourself updated with all the good tips of mental health from the relevant authority. 

 Another good way to start our 2021 year is by undergoing a medical check up with your doctor. By understanding our health condition, it will give us peace of mind especially 2021 has so far not been good for us. In our clinic, we have many doctors that are equipped with excellent knowledge and vast experience for you to consult about your health.

Come to our clinic, we will provide you a quality medical check up that you deserve!

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