With the pandemic affecting almost every part of our lives, people have been struggling to adapt. That’s on top of the day-to-day stress a lot of folks already experience, one local resource has grown in these uncertain times.

According to a recent study published by VPR and PBS, a significant number of Vermonters are experiencing anxiety or stress that has been directly caused by the pandemic.

“About 40 percent have real anxiety, related to the pandemic and then about 70 percent have real financial worries and that causes real stress and anxiety,” says Cathy Aikman, program director of ‘COVID Support VT’. “And that’s completely in result of the pandemic.”

And while the financial piece is a huge catalyst of stress and anxiety, Department of Mental Health Deputy Commissioner, Mourning Fox, says an even larger factor could be all of the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. “There’s a lot of unknowns related to this. When will the pandemic end, when can I get back to work, what’s going to happen with schools, are my family safe, are my children safe, will my job be here. Those kinds of things. And we as human beings don’t do well with the unknown.”

One local program ‘COVID Support VT’ was formed in March, when Governor Phil Scott enacted the state of emergency. Its goal is to educate people on what we’re going through, while helping people seek the proper resources they need to assist with coping.

“If people have coping strategies and tools that they can use on their own,” says Aikman. “It helps them mitigate their stress. So we have produced educational materials and resources, wellness self help tips, for folks to manage their stress right now.”

Experts say taking care of friends and family can be a stress reliever, but Vermont Care Network Executive Director, Simone Rueschemeyer, says sometimes you have to put yourself first. “I think part of it is about education and really just reminding people that we’re all in this and we’re all being impacted and you have to take time to care for yourself too, even if it feels like there’s absolutely no time to do that.”