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    Managing Stress Amid Unprecedented National Events

    By Eduardo Morales, Ph.D.–

    COVID-19 for the past three years has affected everything in our lives including how we socialize, work, travel, and more. With the introduction of vaccines, usage of masks, and complying with health guidelines, we have thus far been able to reduce the infection rate and the conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic substantially. Meanwhile, over the past few years, there have been other significant events that have complicated our lives.

    Among the multiple unprecedented events, I note five major ones in the U.S. that continue to dominate the news media and our concerns. These include: 1) four indictments of a past U.S. president and national leaders, with many more federal and state indictments likely to come; 2) over 500 anti-LGBTQ+ legislative bills being considered throughout the U.S.; 3) the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade last year, reigniting the fight for women’s rights; 4) the largest wildfires in our history occurring in Maui that destroyed one of its major tourist cities, residential sites, and businesses leaving thousands homeless; and 5) the increased number of people—now in the thousands, and mostly from Central America—at our southern borders attempting to immigrate and seeking political asylum.

    These major events are complicated by

    • historically high levels of homelessness throughout the country;
    • an increasing number of burglaries in homes and stores;
    • shoplifting throughout many stores with no apparent consequence;
    • shortages of police and teachers;
    • economic impacts as a result of the pandemic affecting our inflation rates and threatening an economic recession;
    • increased random usage of firearms leading to shootings that wound and kill individuals;
    • car break-ins throughout the country;
    • more hate crimes that are race-based and that target LGBTQ+ individuals;
    • and the warmest summer in history across the U.S., affecting various regions and increasing the temperature of the oceans to threatening levels.

    The combination of these stressors compels us to determine the best ways to cope so that we can better manage our lives. There are various common suggestions for reducing stress that include getting proper rest and relaxation, exercising, meditating, engaging in the arts, seeking out new hobbies, reading, gardening, cooking, taking vacations, traveling, and sharing concerns with others to help release tension and obtain social support. Consider making a list of the activities that you enjoy and find to be stress reducing.

    As responsible citizens, it is important for us to stay informed of major news events, but we must balance that information with our own physical and mental well-being. We are living in unprecedented times, at least for many of us here and in recent generations, given all the challenging events that are happening concurrently. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle and putting things into perspective are worthy goals that help us to manage stress. It can also help to directly engage with the problems at hand, enabling us to feel and actually become more empowered, which can be one of the greatest stress reducers of all.

    Eduardo Morales, Ph.D. is a Professor Emeritus, retired Distinguished Professor, and current adjunct professor at Alliant International University. He is also a licensed psychologist and a founder and current Executive Director of AGUILAS, an award-winning program for Latinx LGBTQ+. Of Puerto Rican decent, he has received numerous distinguished awards and citations, including being named a Fellow of 12 divisions of the American Psychological Association.

    Nuestra Voz
    Published on August 24, 2023