Financial Stress, Academic Stress, Stress Affecting The Brain, and Mental & Emotional Stress
By: Alex DelGrande, Madison Paradis, Emily Snorewicz, and Hannah Vaive
Financial Stress Due to COVID-19
By: Emily Snorewicz
"As it confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, the US faces what could be its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. A successful government response to the economic consequences of the pandemic is critical for sustaining families’ health and well-being and allowing families to remain housed as major sectors of the economy remain closed. The success of this response will partly depend on its effectiveness in reaching the families hardest hit by the loss of jobs and incomes. As relief is distributed, policymakers will need timely data on families’ financial and material well-being to evaluate and improve current efforts and inform new legislation" (Urban Institute).
Ted Talk Videos for Stress and Financial Crisis:
For parents and guardians!
Facts As of March/April:
-Just over 4 in 10 nonelderly adults (41.5 percent) reported that their families have lost jobs, work hours, or work-related income because of the coronavirus outbreak.
-Job and income losses are widespread but more prevalent among the families of low-income and Hispanic adults.
In response to the crisis, 30.6 percent of adults reported that their families reduced spending on food, 43.1 percent put off major purchases, and 27.9 percent drew down savings or increased credit card debt. Among adults in families that lost work or income, 46.5 percent reduced spending on food, 58.1 percent put off major purchases, and 43.9 percent tapped savings or increased credit card debt.
-Low-income, Hispanic, and black adults were most likely to report that their families reduced spending on food, delayed major purchases, or used savings or increased credit card debt.
-As families cope with new financial challenges, many have experienced serious material hardships. Nearly one-third of adults (31.0 percent) reported that their families could not pay the rent, mortgage, or utility bills, were food insecure, or went without medical care because of the cost during the last 30 days. Among adults in families that lost work or income, the share experiencing these material hardships was 42.0 percent over the same time period.
-Over two-thirds (68.6 percent) of adults with family incomes below the federal poverty level and over 45 percent of black and Hispanic adults reported that their families experienced one or more hardships in the last 30 days.
-Looking ahead to the next month, adults are most likely to be worried about being able to work enough hours (38.5 percent) and pay their debts (33.1 percent), and more than one-quarter worry about paying for housing, utility, and medical costs and having enough food to eat.
Where You Can Seek Help
"NFCC is one of a number financial planning groups offering free advice and services during this time. You can have an online chat or speak with a counselor from a nonprofit credit counseling agency. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors and the Financial Planning Association also have certified financial planners and financial advisors available at no cost" (CNBC).
"Speaking with a therapist is becoming easier these days, too, with the rise in virtual visits. Most insurance providers offer a variety of mental health resources. Large health insurance companies — such as UnitedHealthcare, Aetna and Cigna — as well as Medicare have increased their capacity and coverage for telehealth visits" (CNBC).
By: Alex DelGrande
How Can COVID-19 Affect Academic Stress?
Studies have been done to decipher the exact impact COVID-19 will have and has had on stress for children and families. One study discusses that multiple different families struggle to get internet access for their students to be able to attend class online and complete assignments. Families and children may also come to the added stress of having to teach themselves more than in previous school years.
Another stress on academics because of COVID-19 is on the achievement gap and the effect COVID-19 will have on the drops in achievement.
"The researchers predict that, on average, students will experience substantial drops in reading and math, losing roughly three months’ worth of gains in reading and five months’ worth of gains in math. For Megan Kuhfeld, the lead author of the study, the biggest takeaway isn’t that learning loss will happen—that’s a given by this point—but that students will come back to school having declined at vastly different rates."
What are Some Tips for Helping your Child with Academic Stress?
Don't over schedule
Ensure the right amount of sleep
Serve a healthy diet
Incorporate exercise into the day
Causes and Effects of Academic Stress on Children
Academic stress has major impacts on students who are experience high amounts of academic stress. Academic stress can leads to anxiety, depression, lower achievement in school, physical problems, and stress related disorders.
There are also many causes for academic stress in children. The causes of academic stress range widely from tests, homework, teach-student interactions and relationships, and pressure from one's parents.
One of the largest causes of academic stress in children is the pressure that parents put on children to perform well academically. Some students develop nervousness and anxiety because of the stress they feel from their parents' pressure and other causes of stress. It is important for parents to be aware of the stressors their children may be facing and follow some of the tips that were listed above in order to help best support your child.
Ways to Manage and Overcome Academic Stress
These are just some general ways to help manage one's stress and can be helpful for both parents and children!
Practice surrounding oneself with supportive people!
Set reasonable expectations for yourself!
Remind yourself of something positive to look forward to!
How to Make Stress Your Friend
Stress on the Brain
How COVID stress and stress in general can have a major impact on your brain.
By: Hannah Vaive
Physical Effects of Stress on the Brain
Stress is a chain reaction. “When someone experiences a stressful event, the amygdala, an area of the brain that contributes to emotional processing, sends a distress signal to the hypothalamus,” Harvard Health Publications of Harvard Medical School explains. “This area of the brain functions like a command center, communicating with the rest of the body through the nervous system so that the person has the energy to fight or flee.”
This “fight-or-flight” response is responsible for the outward physical reactions most people associate with stress including increased heart rate, heightened senses, a deeper intake of oxygen and the rush of adrenaline. Finally, a hormone called cortisol is released, which helps to restore the energy lost in the response. When the stressful event is over, cortisol levels fall and the body returns to stasis.
Effects of Chronic Stress on the Brain
While stress itself is not necessarily problematic, the buildup of cortisol in the brain can have long-term effects. Thus, chronic stress can lead to health problems.
Cortisol’s functions are part of the natural process of the body. In moderation, the hormone is perfectly normal and healthy. In addition to restoring balance to the body after a stress event, cortisol helps regulate blood sugar levels in cells and has utilitarian value in the hippocampus, where memories are stored and processed.
But when chronic stress is experienced, the body makes more cortisol than it has a chance to release. This is when cortisol and stress can lead to trouble. High levels of cortisol can wear down the brain’s ability to function properly. According to several studies, chronic stress impairs brain function in multiple ways. It can disrupt synapse regulation, resulting in the loss of sociability and the avoidance of interactions with others. Stress can kill brain cells, and even reduce the size of the brain. Chronic stress has a shrinking effect on the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain responsible for memory and learning.
COVID Stress on the Brain
With many unknowns about the future right now, it can be very stressful and difficult for all. Not knowing is scary. However, finding things to do to alleviate some of that stress can make all the difference. Going on a walk, riding a bike, reading a book, chatting with friends, etc. are all great ways to take a break from the stressors of everyday life. Stress is inevitable in some cases, but it is finding ways to combat that stress that makes all the difference.
Social and Emotional Stress
How COVID stress can take a toll on someone's emotional stress and how families can manage that stress together.
By: Madison Paradis
First With Kids Video
This video offers solutions to parents on how they reduce their children's stress during the pandemic. He also encourages parents to take a moment to manage their stress and anxiety about the pandemic too. This video comes from the University of Vermont Medical Center.
A Little SPOT Stays Home: A Story About Viruses And Safe Distancing by Diane Alber
This book talks the pandemic and social distancing in a child friendly way. It discusses what a virus is and what it means. The book teaches children what they need to do during this time in a way that doesn't scare them. This book also encourages them to thank the essential workers that help make our lives easier during the pandemic.
5 Ways that Parents can Support their Children during the Coronavirus Pandemic
Keep Routines in Place
This helps children remain calm during an uncertain time. They will feel like their life is too cluttered and stressful if their day-to-day life changes everyday. Having regular transitions will help lower the amount of temper tantrums a child has.
Be Creative with New Activities and Exercises
Build in activities that help keep children active throughout the day. This could be baking, family game night, riding a bike, or playing outside. This helps kids burn off extra energy they may have while still being safe.
Manage Your Own Anxiety
Kids are easily able to pick up if their parent is stressed or worried, so it's important to manage your own stress so you can successfully manage your children's stress and anxiety. Keeping your own worries in check will help the pandemic run smoother in the household.
Limit Consumption of the News
If children watch the news and see the tragic events that are occurring every day, they are going to become worried that the virus will hurt them. Turn on content that will positively impact your kids, whether it's their favorite tv show or a show where you learn to do something new.
Stay in Touch Virtually
Children will most likely miss their friends from school and extended family that they have to stay away from. Downloading Skype or FaceTiming others will help them stay connected to the outside world. Socializing children at a young age is important and it's important to keep that going, even if it is virtual.