That the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is taking its toll on the mental health of the general public, can no longer be denied. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the United States notes that “Majority are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, which can cause strong emotions in both adults and children.” The imposed public health responses against the pandemic such as social distancing, the CDC further states, has made people feel isolated and lonely, thus unnecessarily increasing feelings of stress and anxiety.
In the Philippines, the issue of mental health since the pandemic started is also a cause of much concern, with the National Center for Mental Health, sharing a 2020 report from the World Health Organization (WHO), recording a significant increase in calls to their depression hotline—from 80 calls pre-lockdown to an alarming figure of nearly 400 calls per day.
Manifestations of stress
The symptoms of stress can manifest itself differently to different people, the most common of which are feelings of fear, anger, worry, or frustration. Similarly, changes in appetite, lack of energy, and difficulty in concentrating and sleeping are all clear manifestations of severe stress—some or all of which are already experienced by many, more so since the onset of the pandemic. And just as varied as the physical and emotional signs of stress are the ways individuals are trying to cope and respond to it.
‘Stress-smoking’ on the rise
A recent thought piece published by personneltoday.com reveals how the pandemic has led to an increase in so-called ‘stress smoking’—where smokers are smoking more because of the extra strain and anxiety the present situation has brought. What’s even more alarming is how younger people—ages 18 to 34—have turned to cigarettes as their go-to stress reliever.
Additionally, such as has been reported in the United Kingdom by Bloomberg, a number of those who have already quit smoking—some 10%—are taking up the habit once again.
Here in the Philippines, meanwhile, data from the Department of Health (DOH) shows that only 4% of Filipinos have quit smoking despite more stringent rules and regulations persuading them to finally kick the habit.
Vaping as an alternative for adults
In view of the harmful effects brought about by cigarette smoking, the advent of vaping has shown to be a reliable alternative for adult combustible cigarette smokers, especially for those looking at quitting for good. Vaping has been seen as an effective means to manage stress while at the same time, being less harmful than that of combustible cigarettes. Vaping, for example, can not only help reduce stress, but also aides in improving focus, concentration, and relaxation. Vaping likewise provides a cheaper way of reducing stress, as it is more cost-effective than cigarettes.
A study published by Oxford Academic shows that a variety of non-tobacco flavors, especially fruit, are popular among those who have quit smoking and are now vaping. This, then, shows how vaping flavors can help those who are just about to look at vaping as an alternative.
As the pandemic has forced people to follow strict protocols such as the use of face masks, face shields, regular handwashing, proper indoor ventilation, practicing responsible vaping is also a must in these trying times.
Among the important measures to follow include the non-sharing of one’s vape device, an effective means to stop the spread of the coronavirus through droplets. Also, avoiding confined spaces while vaping is also vital, as the vaping cloud can get more concentrated indoors. Lastly, using only quality, original vape products is also of importance, as counterfeit products often contain dangerous chemicals, not to mention, lead to hazardous battery fires and explosions.
As the CDC constantly reminds everyone, it is unavoidable for anybody to feel stress, grief, and worry especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, finding ways to cope and manage their stresses better does go a long way in helping, not only themselves but other people in their immediate vicinity as well.
Vaping has served as an effective alternative for adult smokers for a long time now already, and it is even more so during this period of anxiety. Authorities around the world such as Canada and the UK have expressed concern about vapers reverting back to smoking and have even included vape shops as “essential” services during the coronavirus lockdowns.
While adult vapers should be able to continue purchasing vape products, it is also just as important that the use of vapes be used in a hygienic and responsible manner.