• Dr Emily Barney

Responses to Stress - What is normal?

Updated: Jun 24, 2020

The Coronavirus Outbreak. We are in strange, uncertain times, right now, for sure. Stress is inevitable. So what is a normal response to stress?

Is it normal to suddenly burst into tears for no reason?

Is it normal to feel absolute terror at the thought of “just having to sit on the sofa”

Is it normal to feel totally calm about exposing yourself to the virus?

Is it normal to make complex decisions with no effort when answering work emails then in the next minute be totally overwhelmed by the decision of what to make for dinner?

Is it normal to catch yourself regularly each day staring blankly into the fridge not knowing how long you’ve been stood there?

Is it normal to see a picture of a friend and their child with huge smiles eating ice creams/enjoying their day and imagine ramming the ice cream into their smug faces?

Is it normal to feel nothing when your child cries in front of you?

Is it normal to fear spending the whole day with your own kids?

Is it normal to want to reply “go f**k yourself” when your friend posts about the homeschooling lessons they have completed or the apple pie their 2 year old made on their own?

Is it normal to be more interested in reading what Sharon has to say on Facebook than what your children are saying right in front of your face?

Is it normal to be happy in the middle of an epidemic the likes we have never seen before?

And so on.

The answer to all the above is YES. We all have our own version of normal when dealing with stress. And all are absolutely OK. (A lot of the examples above are actually from my own experience today alone!)

The recently popular hashtag #bekind is just wonderful, and there is another one that I find really helps - (feel free to use it or come up with your own and let me know what it is!) When you are worrying or feeling guilty, why not consider this..….. #sowhat

  • So what if you stay in your pyjamas all day?

  • So what if someone else has baked an apple pie, taught their kids Maths, Geography, Chemistry and English, made house dens, spring cleaned the whole house, so what?

  • So what if your kids spend most of the day in front of the TV?

  • So what if others are coping gracefully with this epidemic?

  • So what if the house is a mess or you don’t get up until 10am … you get the gist.

We are all trying to deal with this strange situation, even the calmest and well put together of people are just trying to deal with it in their own way. So do whatever helps you to get through this. The time will soon come when things go back to normal - whatever ‘normal’ means for you.

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