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Learning to deal with a new reality full of stress

Dealing with corona stress from working from home, children and reduced social contacts.

Our world is turned upside down. Many of us have had to get used to a new home situation, different working conditions and a (partially) lost social life in recent weeks. While we are all more concerned about the health of ourselves and our loved ones. It is therefore not surprising that many people experience stress during this corona crisis. But how can you deal with that?

What exactly is stress?

There are different definitions of stress. A frequently used one is that of doctor Hans Selye: 'stress is the body's response to an (external) demand'. Such a requirement is therefore the cause of stress, and is therefore also called the 'stressor'. Work pressure can be a stressor, as can strong emotions such as fear, sadness or anger. The same goes for things that negatively affect our cognitive performance - and that are beyond our control - such as noise, lack of sleep, and alcohol.

Corona, breeding ground for stress

No lack of stressors now. Our comfortable work patterns have disappeared, causing work pressure. We are at home all day with partners, children and pets, while our living structure is blurring. We are afraid that something will happen to us and our loved ones. Afraid to go out and run errands. And we grieve for people close to us who are sick or dead. Normally we would visit others in times of stress. But supporting each other is difficult at (one and a half meters) distance.

Find contact

Nevertheless, we recommend actively reaching out to friends, family, neighbors or colleagues. After all, social support is a commonly used and effective coping strategy, a way to deal with stress. Pick up the phone more often than usual. Send more messages, or video call with each other. Even if you actually have nothing to say at all. Social contact helps us to put things into perspective and to vent. The government's motto in the fight against corona is: 'Only together can we get corona under control'. The same goes for stress.

Get control

Another effective coping strategy is 'active approach'. In this situation this can be done by gaining (the feeling of) control over the situation, even if only in small things. For example, you can do the following per stressor:

Get a grip on work and at home

  • Set clear, achievable goals
    Both in the household and in your work - possibly in consultation with your manager and colleagues. If you work from home and also have to teach your children, it may not be feasible to be as effective as before the corona crisis, when you could work in the office in peace. Lower the bar a bit.
  • Apply structure
    Decide what parts of the day you work, when you do household chores, and when you do something with your kids. And stick to this schedule. In addition, make sure you maintain roughly the same structure as before the crisis. Now that we all work from home, it is easy to send an email in the evening or at the weekend. Our advice: don't do that.
  • Sleep regularly, eat healthy and keep in (mental) movement
    This will make you feel healthier. Moreover, you remain so clear, so that you can continue to think reasonably, calmly and objectively, and you can better arm yourself against worry. Also try to stay mentally active: write, read, play (thinking) games or (crossword) puzzles.
  • Be careful with narcotics
    Alcohol and drugs make you think less clearly, so you can think less rationally and objectively about your concerns.


  • Don't follow the news all day
    We are bombarded with corona news, there are developments every hour. Try not to follow the news closely. Especially not right before going to bed: Worrying news before going to sleep can lead to worry and insomnia.
  • Follow the guidelines of the RIVM
    It sounds logical, but it is extremely important for your sense of security.
  • Consider your emotions
    Are you afraid? Then calmly and objectively evaluate what you fear. When it comes to your own health, calmly consider how you actually feel, also compared to yesterday and the day before. Also accept that you feel what you feel, don't counteract your emotions. Allow yourself time to understand them and discuss them with others.

More information

Do you have questions about this article? Or do you need a listening ear? De Unie is there for you. We are available every working day from 8.00 a.m. to 18.00 p.m. Feel free to contact us: sc@unie.nl or 0345 851 963.

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