Increasing joy in response to stress

Build in Joy

Time to build in more joy

Anxiety, stress, loneliness, grief, and a welter of other emotions are becoming familiar to many of us during this pandemic.  Lockdowns and quarantines, being unable to visit or hug loved ones, worrying about employment, children’s schooling, and how to pay the bills – it’s no wonder it’s getting us down! The idea of increasing joy in response to stress during this time of uncertainty may seem odd, even a bit crazy.

How to increase joy

Tra To of Zapier has written about bringing more joy into the home-based work day, and we certainly agree that more joy cannot be anything but good for us.  But as she notes, joy doesn’t just happen, it is something that we can design for, not something that comes and goes like a happy mood.

Joy comes from beyond us and can be built with intention.  To lists a number of practical steps she takes, such as making her home workspace colorful and upbeat, scheduling times in the day to give positive feedback to colleagues, finding reasons to celebrate, and above all, giving yourself and others permission to add joy into the work day.

How have you found joy?  Please share in the comments section below.

Increase in distress during pandemic

Joy is all the more important as the news from outside becomes scarier.  A survey conducted in June, 2020 by the Centers for Disease Control also found high rates of self-reported anxiety and depression as well as increased use and abuse of alcohol and illicit drugs.  Especially among unpaid caregivers of adults at home and the so-called “essential workers”, suicidal thoughts show a worrisome uptick.  Younger Americans seem to be hit harder by stressors during the pandemic, with higher rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse and suicidal thoughts in the 18 – 24-year age group, and findings show that the prevalence of these issues decreases progressively with age.

While experts point out that we often underestimate our own resilience, and point to studies showing that disasters do not usually result in long-term increases in mental illness, this is certainly a time for all of us to work harder on mental health, including increasing joy.

How to help

Check in with the caregivers and low-income essential workers in your own network.  Ask about distress they may be experiencing.  Offer whatever help you can give, and make sure they know how to access professional help, especially for addiction and suicidal thoughts.  Talk and listen, that’s the main way to overcome the isolation of continual or repeated lockdowns.  Services such as Marijuana Anonymous and similar programs are working hard on virtual meetings and online security.  Improvements are being made all the time.

Psychiatrist Dr. Timothy Sullivan commented on the CDC survey in an article in saying:

“More must be done to help those already in need to access mental health services. That includes regulatory and insurance support for telepsychiatry services to reach individuals in traditionally underserved communities and those who are reluctant to seek care because of fear of infection.”

If you or a loved one are having suicidal thoughts please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) for English, 1-888-628-9454 for Spanish, or Lifeline Crisis Chat. The CDC also has a comprehensive listing of sources of help for people undergoing stress.  There are a lot of resources out there that are not hard to access.  Check it out!