Why Americans are finding it difficult to return to pre-pandemic normalcy

·3-min read

As the country makes its slow return to pre-pandemic normalcy, the stress and resulting physical effects are still very much present with more than half the population saying events and gatherings stress them due to health concerns.

A survey of 2,000 general population Americans found 59% are hesitant about social interactions in general in the post-pandemic world because of stress. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents are concerned if that could affect seeing family and friends this upcoming holiday season.

However, even before the pandemic, people were prone to break off social engagements due to things like social anxiety (41%), catching a sickness (34%), back or joint pain (33%) and potential heartburn (32%).

Commissioned by Nexium 24HR and conducted by OnePoll, the study revealed a connection between the mental toll of the pandemic and the physical effects resulting from that stress. 

Sixty-one percent of respondents said their stress has been pushed to the highest level after enduring 2020. 

In fact, 64% of respondents went so far to say the uncertainty around COVID-19 variants and rising case numbers is so stressful that it is heartburn inducing.

Nearly three in five (58%) said their stress-management skills have worsened since the onset of the pandemic, and 60% of those who turn to comfort food when stressed recognize the negative impact from poor dietary choices.

Sixty-three percent are also worried about the world's progression to normalcy, citing COVID health concerns (61%) and potential new variants (60%) as top stress factors. Thirty-seven percent also reported the return of physical discomforts, like heartburn, are another cause for worry.

For those who experience heartburn, 39% noted these high stress levels exacerbate their heartburn symptoms, affecting many areas of their life, including sleep (48%), eating habits (44%), productivity (39%) and mood (37%).

"The cyclical relationship between stress, food intake and heartburn can wreak havoc on many areas of overall wellbeing," explains internal medicine expert and Nexium 24HR spokesperson, Dr. Clenton Coleman MD. "With the increased strain caused by the pandemic, it's extra important to be proactive in addressing health issues, like heartburn, getting good nutrition, and managing stress levels so that you're not held back from living your life to the fullest."

Results also found that health concerns have prevented 54% from participating in activities or attending events and eating a meal at a social event (which is a staple at practically every gathering) causes anxiety for 56%.

Nearly as many (54%) bring items with them to social events in order to combat social pressure. Of them, respondents said bringing their own beverages (57%), foods (57%) and chairs (39%) to functions are essential to stave aches, pains and heartburn.

Seven in 10 of those who suffer from heartburn said it's forced them to give up things they love, preventing enjoyment of some of their most treasured activities, like eating their favorite meal (42%), attending social gatherings (36%) and traveling (35%).

Forty-six percent said heartburn prevents them from living their life to the fullest — many reported adverse effects to sleep (48%), diet (44%) and productivity (39%) because of it.

"With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it's safe to assume that the anxiety exacerbating symptoms of heartburn is not likely to go away any time soon," said Dr. Coleman. "The ability to enjoy the company of others at any given moment shouldn't be interfered with by momentary physical discomfort such as heartburn. Rather than enduring through it, being proactive in addressing the physical symptoms, particularly for those suffering from frequent heartburn, should be a priority and is key to getting back to the simple joys in life."

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