Overwhelmed in 2022

Overwhelmed in 2022

Article by Natalie Kemp, MA, LPA, University of Mount Olive Department Chair for Psychology

 MOUNT OLIVE –A single mom wakes up worried because she has a slight headache and a low fever. She cannot miss another day of work.  Last week her son was sent home to quarantine because someone on his bus tested positive for COVID-19. He is too young to stay home alone and she has already run out of favors. She feels like she has no other choice except to take some medicine and go to work. She cries because she feels so overwhelmed.

A student athlete walks in the clinic anxious about the weekly test that will determine if he can play this week. It is his senior year and the team has finally made it to the state championship. He is too afraid to tell anyone that he really doesn’t feel well. Last week a professor referred him to the counselor because he is falling behind in his work and he complained of being overwhelmed.

A man has adjusted his schedule because his kid’s school has a bus driver shortage. His wife is a nurse and her schedule has been so unpredictable.  It has been challenging getting the kids to and from school every day. His boss just told him that he needs to go out of town for the next week to help land a big account, and now he is worried about telling his family. He is angry because he feels out of control and overwhelmed.

Since 2020, many people report feeling overwhelmed on a daily basis. These scenarios are real life examples of the struggles that people are going through, still after two years of living in a pandemic. At first, many people felt isolated in quarantine.  Many silently suffered while hiding behind masks. Today, people are unsure of what may be next and confused by the rules that change every day. Some public places require masks, but others do not. Employees have to make a choice about getting a vaccine or losing their job. People have lost loved ones and do not feel comfortable in public gatherings any more. How should we handle the many issues that have come about with this pandemic, that are causing us to feel so overwhelmed?

Patience- Being patient with others is very important in a time when so many things are out of our control.  For example, in the grocery store it is now common to hear customers yelling at workers because the shelves are empty. This is no fault of the employee’s, rather it is part of a larger system that is being strained. With people contracting COVID and having to quarantine, there are less people to do the work.  This can slow down production and distribution. A prime example is restaurants sometimes having to close because there are not enough healthy staff to work. Practicing patience is something that we can all do when we are faced with others in circumstances that are beyond their control.

Understanding- Along with being patient comes trying to understand others. In this time of great division in our nation, there are so many people picking sides and fighting with others who do not think the same way. Instead of pointing out the differences and arguing over who is right, try finding some common ground and working together. Many businesses have had to change the way they do business such as having virtual meetings, offering drive up services, and conducting telehealth options. These alternatives may not be the best options for everyone involved, but they do show compassion by trying to meet people’s needs with creative solutions.

Flexible- Due to the fact that no two situations are exactly the same, the rules may change in different environments. Just because one place does not require the use of masks, does not mean other places will follow the same practice. Preparing yourself to be flexible will be helpful in avoiding getting angry over what may be perceived as inconveniences. It is a good idea to always have a mask with you whether you have to wear it or not.  Do not walk into a situation ready to debate or fight, but rather be flexible and courteous in your responses.

Mental Wellness- A focus on positive health, even in the smallest ways must be a priority for everyone. Since the start of the pandemic, countless studies report a major decline in mental health and a rapid increase in the need for counseling and intervention in relation to anxiety and depression. These issues cut across every age group, socioeconomic status, race, religion, and gender. People report being desperate to have some balance in their lives and being able to find happiness again in various relationships. It is important to let others know when you are experiencing struggles that are overbearing and to remember not to try tackle everything alone. For many people, the battle starts in the mind.  Negative thoughts can easily play tricks and send people down a negative spiral and a path of destruction. Seeking professional help, staying active, and engaging in relaxing activities are all ways to improve mental health.

If you are feeling overwhelmed in this season of life, you are not alone. It will take all of us working together and doing our part to be patient, understanding, and flexible to improve the overall mental wellness of our society. After two long years in this pandemic, we have seen some progress and we will continue to endure as things change and we learn more.  Don’t give up, keep pushing on, and encourage someone else along the way. We were never meant to live this life in isolation.

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University is sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists.  For more information, visit www.umo.edu.

For students like Alan Gonzalez of Creedmoor, NC, a freshmen accounting major, life can be stressful balancing college life as well as other obligations and worries.

Rena Williams of Goldsboro is a freshmen psychology major.  Rena displays the thoughts of many college students who feel overwhelmed by doing college during a pandemic.