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People of all ages reportedly feeling more stress, anxiety as the pandemic continues forward

Four out of 10 people reported having symptoms of anxiety and depression during the first six months of 2021, an increase from just one in 10 in 2019.

ARIZONA, USA — The holiday season has a different feel this year.

COVID-19 continues to evolve, and its effects continue to take a toll on people, with four out of 10 reporting symptoms of anxiety and depression during the first six months of 2021. That's an increase from just one in 10 in 2019, according to a CDC survey.  

“What caused us to feel tension and stress is not a one-size-fits-all,” said Judith Karshmer, ASU’s Chief Wellness Officer. “One of the things that we should think about as we go into the holiday season is that we need to be kind to ourselves and understand that maybe other people are going through things.”

Food insufficiency, financial concerns, and loneliness were among the risk factors that caused anxiety and suicidal ideation, the CDC survey found.

Identifying those stressors and what feelings you’re experiencing are the first steps to find a way to cope, according to Karshmer.

“Taking care of ourselves is just as important as taking care of anybody else,” she added. “We should always start with what’s worked in the past for us and not assume that it’s going to be the same for everybody.”

Taking a deep breath, reaching out to loved ones, spending time alone, eating better, or exercising are effective steps people can take to de-stress, Karshmer said.

Credit: CDC

Wide variety of stress and anxiety

The pandemic affected people in different ways. For Lydia Alcado, it meant going through life in full throttle.

“Everyday hustle and bustle,” Alcado, a mother of four said. “Going to school and working, but then I lost my job.”

In August 2020, Alcado was laid-off, her kids began online school and COVID-19 surged.

“Being that you don’t have two incomes, you do have children, you do have bills, everything keeps coming, it’s not going to stop,” Alcado said.

The increase in food expenses as her kids were home and other costs added to a combination of Alcados’ stress triggers.

“Just the unknown about everything was the main thing,” said Ryan Hamilton about what caused him anxiety last year. “We use a lot of wine now, we do more trips to make up for 2020, and spending a lot of time with family and friends has helped.”

Amid college finals, ASU offered therapy dogs and other activities like board games, massages, and manicures to its Barrett Honors students.

“These events allow us to really kind of allow students to take a pause,” said Kira Gatewood, director of staff operations at the university’s downtown campus. “In a study, one-third of students talked about how they feel stressed or have some sort of anxiety and that’s prior to the finals.”

For Alcaldo, her faith and past experiences taught her how to deal with life obstacles one punch at a time.

“Us being able to know how to handle the stress and then joining boxing kind of helped,” Alcaldo said.

So when life feels like it’s going full speed, remember you’re not alone.

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