May 27

Cumulative Stress – A Neverending Story

COVID-19, Lee Sweeney, Psychology, Uncategorized


Cumulative Stress – A Neverending Story

By Lee Sweeney, QSR

May 27, 2020

COVID-19, Mental Health, Stress

OK, so I've limited my news intake, I'm getting oodles of sleep, and certainly eating well. I'm staying home like a good human protecting myself and others. Now what?

Professionals talk about how we may be feeling like we used up our internal resources for dealing with the stressors in our lives but....the crisis has STILL not passed. The good news is we humans are VERY resilient.

So - does any of the following sound familiar to you??

CUMULATIVE STRESS can be described as:  Accumulation of various stress factors such as workload, poor communication, coping with situations where you feel powerless, and inability to rest or relax. The reference was often used for first responders who deal with traumatic situations regularly.

Signs/Symptoms may include: Boredom, Fatigue, Anxiety, Depression, Concentration/Memory problems, Relationship problems, Increased alcohol/drug use, Performance changes, Fear of leaving home, Personality changes, and Becoming housebound.

Cumulative stress is NOT just dealing with the day-to-day stresses of an ongoing crisis. Cumulative is new or additional stressors being added on to existing ones. Ie on top of being laid off, you may have ill relatives, existing conflicts at home, or a new financial crisis "piling on".

So are we all suffering from cumulative stress? I'm sure many are feeling at least some affects now that we are a couple of months into the crisis and many have been home for at least a few weeks now.

We need to recognize what causes us stress and how it affects us physically, emotionally and spiritually. Self-care begins with self-reflection. As always, everyone reacts differently (see my previous blog!) so go easy on yourself. If its not working, try something else, do something different. Just be aware of how things may be affecting you.

  1. Mental Health Resources - see below and use the ones you may not even know you have. If you can, call or write your friends, family, coworkers, community organizations. Keeping in touch benefits you both. Get help when you need it.
  2. Keep busy(ish). Easier said than done lately, no? I feel that. There's always the suggestion to take up a hobby (writing?) or go for a walk or learn a new language. You do you. If Netflix distracts you, I’m not judging. Just be sure to change it up and don’t isolate yourself socially as well as physically from others.
  3. Keep boundaries. This can be challenging if you are at home with multiple family members. Personal space can be vital so do what you can to carve out that personal time and space if you can. Five minutes of peace can go a long way.
  4. Help others! Helping someone who is more vulnerable can give you distraction, keep you busy, make you feel needed and wanted, and the benefit to the other person, in addition to the warm fuzzy feeling you get.

As an educator, I'm using online courses to distract myself. And there’s tons of distractions online so I'm including a few favourites below. Soteria120 has a FREE COVID-19 module that will give you a daily dose of information, check us out at

I'd love to hear your feedback on how you are managing to distract yourself.

Lets keep reflecting and learning together as a community!

You can both use the resource and BE the resource that helps everyone achieve mental wellness!

Wellness includes your mind, what have you done for your mental health today?

Please note that the information contained in this blog is not meant as a substitute for professional psychological counselling, or formal mental health training.

If you need help, resources, or just someone to talk to:

  • Call or text 211
  • Chat (or search resources) online at or
  • Call or text the 24-hour crisis line at 403-266-HELP (4357)
  • If you or someone else is a danger to themselves or others please DIAL 9-1-1
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Lee Sweeney, QSR

About the author

Lee is Soteria120 content developer and blog contributor. She writes from the diverse perspectives of commercial underwriting and risk management, healthcare, education, First Aid/CPR/CFA, and workplace safety and quality management. She also holds a QSR (Qualified Safety Representative) designation.

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