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Research Shows COVID-19 Epidemic Make 70% of People Unable to Concentrate on Work

by Amélie Poulain
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The American Mental Health Association surveyed 10,000 employees of 17 companies to understand the mental health status of employees during the COVID-19 outbreak. 78% of employees believe that the work pressure brought by the epidemic has affected their mental health because they are worried about being infected and the infection will affect their work. The probability of suffering from depression and anxiety disorders has also increased. Surveys show that 70% of employees are unable to concentrate on work under the epidemic.


The fluctuation of the epidemic has caused increased work pressure and affected the mental health of employees. (Photo via pexels.com)

Taipei, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – There are new changes in the global epidemic. New Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5 have appeared in Europe and the United States. The infectivity and pathogenicity are better than BA.1 and BA.2. Known as “perfect evolution”, causing the epidemic to fluctuate again, seriously affecting the mental health at work. The Mental Health Association (MHA) surveyed 11,300 employees at 17 companies in 2021 to understand the mental health status of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

78 percent of employees in the survey believe that the work stress brought by the epidemic has affected their mental health. They are concerned about the impact of infection and on work after infection. They are also concerned that the epidemic has made economic conditions unstable, so emotions are implicated. It also increases the risk of depression and anxiety disorders. 70% of employees said that they could not concentrate on work during the epidemic, and more than half of them didn’t know how to get psychological assistance. Daily life and work have been affected by the epidemic.

WHO also warned recently that depression has become the main disability reason in recent years, and the COVID-19 epidemic has exacerbated this problem. Gallup’s latest global work environment report survey also mentioned that since the outbreak of the epidemic in 2020, 45 percent of workers believe that their lives have been seriously affected, and work stress has exceeded the previous peak. The inconvenience of international travel, working from home, and unemployment caused by the epidemic have put 43 percent of workers under stress. “Employee engagement” also declined for the first time in nearly a decade.

Research figures released by the University of Queensland in 2021 show that under the influence of COVID-19, the global population suffering from depression and anxiety disorders has increased, and the number of disabled people has also increased. Depression accounted for 49.4 million in DALYs, and anxiety disorders accounted for 49.5 million, with women more severely affected than men, and younger people more affected than the elders. People with chronic diseases, cancer, and asthma are more likely to experience symptoms of mental disorders.

since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, 45% of workers believe that their lives have been seriously affected, and work stress has exceeded the previous peak. (Photo via pexels.com)

The main reason for the serious psychological problems is that they are worried about being infected and also worrying that their work will be affected after the infection. The fear is heightened when a relative or friend around them became sick or died of COVID-19. The epidemic has also blocked normal social activities and various channels for help. It is more difficult than usual to seek help from friends, social workers, and counselors. People felt isolated all the time. Some companies cut salaries and benefits and even took unpaid leave and layoffs due to the impact on profits, which invisibly increased the psychological pressure.

During the epidemic, teachers, and epidemic prevention-related personnel, such as medical staff, testing personnel, and cleaning personnel, are under a lot of psychological pressure. Many companies are WFH or off-site work. Some schools adopt online learning and some directly suspend classes. These changes affect daily routines and work patterns. Working from home can lead to communication problems and make work times unclear. If you have to take care of children studying at home, the physical and mental burden and time pressure will increase. Many people worry this situation will affect their work performance and cause more psychological problems.

The Taiwan Society of Sleep Medicine surveyed the impact of COVID-19 on Taiwanese sleep conditions in 2022. The survey found that about 27.9 percent of people with anxiety were caused by the COVID-19 epidemic. The proportion of the population with symptoms of insomnia increased from 42.9% to 59.7% after the outbreak. The proportion of mental distress caused by sleep problems was 14.3% before the epidemic and rose to 41% after the outbreak. Up to 60 percent of patients with insomnia took sleeping pills every day during the month.

In Taiwan, the proportion of the population with symptoms of insomnia increased from 42.9% to 59.7% after the outbreak of COVID-19. (Photo via unsplash.com)

When the pressure increases, we will have negative emotions. You can record your emotional changes every day, and try to observe and understand yourself. Learning how to release stress and ask for help from relatives, friends, or professionals when you are constantly at a low ebb. You can also start with these small daily things listed below to cultivate positive thinking and release stress:

Learn How to Think Positively

  • Write down the things you do well and happy things every day, and develop the habit of positive thinking, which can also increase your self-confidence.
  • Regular work and rest are the most basic and important things. Good spirit can improve the efficiency of work during the day and reduce anxiety.
  • Nutritious eating and exercise habits help build a healthy body, improve resilience and stress resistance in life, and keep your brain happy.
  • Appropriate social and leisure activities can provide emotional support and companionship. Doing what you like will make you feel happy and satisfied, and your stress resistance will increase.
  • Adjust your mentality and deal with the problem positively. Change the habits of avoidance and procrastination to prevent things from accumulating and causing deeper stress. Facing and solving it and the stress will be relieved.

Learn How to Release Stress

  • Organize your work environment and thoughts: By organizing your office or home work environment, you can change your mood, organize your thoughts, and relieve stress.
  • Practicing muscle relaxation: Find the tight muscles, practice tightening, and then relax. When the pressure hits, you can relax the tight muscles by yourself.
  • Slow down breathing and balance the autonomic nervous system: Slowing down your breathing and practicing abdominal breathing is the easiest way to adjust your autonomic nervous system. It will let your mood calm down.
  • Write a journal to release emotions: Write down what happens every day to relieve accumulated emotions. Think about how to change unhappy situations and focus on happy things.
  • Meditate with music or essential oils: With your favorite essential oils or music, 10 to 15 minutes of meditation every day can settle the complex emotions of the day.
  • Cultivate other self-interests: You can develop your favorite interests, such as sports, painting, cooking, singing, dancing, etc., to add more fun to your life.
Learning to think positively will make a whole different day. (Photo via pexels.com)

According to the latest research from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), 10 minutes a day, about 75 minutes a week, of regular brisk walking can help reduce the risk of depression by 18%. When the time was increased to 150 minutes per week, the risk of depression was reduced by a quarter. Developing a simple habit of brisk walking will change your mood, promote circulation, strengthen cardiopulmonary function, and help improve digestion, metabolism, and sleep quality. It is a decompression activity that everyone can engage in.

Under the storm of the epidemic, many companies are also thinking in reverse and moving towards policies to improve employee welfare, physical care, and mental care. According to the corporate health and welfare survey report conducted by Fidelity Investments and the non-profit organization “Business Group on Health” in January this year, after the epidemic began, many companies began to improve employees’ mental health, vacation benefits, childcare services, and financial planning. They also focus on the smooth communication channels with employees. Some companies hold classes on stress relief and leisure activities for employees to relax.

Pay attention to the physical and mental health of employees, so that they can balance life and work performance. By protecting the talented assets that are extremely important to the company and we could overcome the epidemic together and move towards a better future for the company.

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