With the many problems COVID-19 has brought, rising tensions is one of the most prominent. Oftentimes we find ourselves getting annoyed over little things like one too many questions from our little siblings, or our friends saying something in a slightly aggressive tone.
Sometimes we are at the opposite end, with parents getting angry over a dish put away an inch from the right spot or a teacher getting mad at you for seemingly no reason. We might find it impossible to deal with this as it is almost impossible to take a break from someone you live with or have to talk to every day. In order to tackle this problem, however, we must first find the root of it.
Many often feel annoyed at what could be considered smaller things prior to the pandemic, but why does it feel as though these reactions have increased? According to a study from the Journal of American Medical Association, roughly a quarter of people in the United States are experiencing symptoms of depression, which is very unusual (Catherine K. Ettman Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic jamanetwork.com). Not only is it three times the normal amount but it is also abnormally higher than after previous tragic events. This can be due to the fact that this pandemic has affected everyone, and is taking place over a long period of time. With many wondering if we will ever be able to escape this pandemic, people are left with feelings of uncertainty and fear of the future. Not only is there a rise in symptoms of depression, but other mental illnesses as well—such as anxiety. With more people experiencing these issues it also affects relationships as it becomes more tiring to interact with people. For example, think of it as when you are stressed about a big exam coming up and become more irritable, yell at your siblings for being too loud when you are trying to study, or feel as if you are going to start crying when another chore is added to your to-do list. However, unlike an upcoming test, the pandemic affects us on a much larger scale. Almost everyone has experienced increased stress, but this can be more dangerous than we realize.
Our emotions affect our actions far more than we often realize especially in ways we do not want them to. Increasing stress levels in parents is one of the predictors of a child being abused. This is not to say every parent is now abusing their child, but it is important to realize the potential danger many may be in that we do not realize. Financial strain, as well as even the stress of their own children, can influence parents to be more violent and aggressive, according to the APA (How COVID-19 may increase domestic violence and child abuse apa.org). Although most parents think that they would never be in that situation, many will be tested with the examples mentioned before, and it is important to realize this in order to work against it. This also applies to toxic relationships, and with many shelters closing due to COVID-19, it is harder for people to get away from their abusers. Minorities, older women, and disabled women are all already more affected by abuse than other groups, and because of the pandemic, they are now at an even greater risk. Domestic abuse is also higher in poorer neighborhoods which are already being more affected by COVID-19 than others.
Not only does stress negatively affect your relationships but it can also very dangerous to yourself as well. Especially with it being so important to stay healthy, stress can have negative physical effects as well as mental ones. The CDC has compiled a list of some of these effects including (but not limited to):
Stress can also make it harder to do schoolwork or your job well, which adds to your stress, and therefore increases family tensions. It is very easy to get overwhelmed once you get into the cycle of stress, and feel it is impossible to escape.
With all of the risks that come with tensions and increased stress levels, it is crucial to make sure that you are taking time to relax. The CDC has posted individual pdfs for different members of the family and advice on how to manage stress which is a great resource that I highly suggest you look at (Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19 cdc.gov). The University of Houston has also posted ways to destress including:
While everyone is different, it is important to try different ways of destressing to know what works for you. Listening to yourself and your feelings is the most important step to helping truly minimize your stress.
Abramson, A. “How COVID-19 May Increase Domestic Violence and Child Abuse.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, 8 Apr. 2020,
Chatterjee, Rhitu. “Pandemic's Emotional Hammer Hits Hard.” NPR, NPR, 2 Sept. 2020,
Catherine K. Ettman, BA. “Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” JAMA Network Open, JAMA Network, 2 Sept. 2020,
“Mental Health and Coping During COVID-19.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
“Minimizing Relationship Tension at Home During COVID-19 Crisis.” University of Houston, 14 Apr. 2020,