coronavirus

‘Better Days to Come': Pandemic Has Bostonians Feeling Stressed Out

One study by the American Psychology Association found 80% of adults see COVID-19 as a major source of stress

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The feelings many people have right now are nearly universal, given the stress created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I'm just trying my best to hang in there, but a lot of people, you can see the look on their face -- they're stressed out," said Charles Butler of Boston.

One study by the American Psychology Association found 80% of adults see COVID-19 as a major source of stress, with two out three experiencing increased bouts of anxiety since this all started.

”This has to be a challenge. Wearing the mask, stay away from people, and obey the governor’s orders,” said Juan Quinteros of Boston.

That stress is only expected to rise with the end of Daylight Saving Time this weekend as the days grow shorter. In a few weeks, there will be less than nine hours of daylight, making a depressing time of year even more so.

"It's something else that we live with," said James Williams of Boston. "Things affect you if you let it affect you. It's your attitude about everything in life."

Dr. Ellen Braaten at Massachusetts General Hospital said more people are taking greater advantage of mental health services right now. And that's a good thing.

"I don't know if I'd use the word crisis yet. But we are definitely in deep water as far as our mental health goes," she said.

Braaten said much of the pandemic-related stress is driven by uncertainty -- uncertainty over the virus, vaccines, the presidential election and the health of loved ones.

Despite these mental health challenges, another study found 70% of Americans remain optimistic about the future.

"Definitely there are better days to come," Braaten said. "It can be hard for people to hold on to that when every day seems so uncertain for them."

Experts say it’s important to stay connected with family and friends and remain focused on things in life that you can control.

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