Tips to Manage Stressful Times
If you or someone you love is experiencing anxiety or depression caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, know that you are not alone. In fact, the World Health Organization reports a 25% increase in anxiety and depression globally since the pandemic began in 2020.
Of the billions of people worldwide suffering from mental health crises triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, many cited these stressors:
- Fear of infection
- Grief after bereavement
- Financial worries
According to the CDC, extreme and prolonged stress can cause:
- Exaggerated feelings of anger, frustration, fear, sadness, worry or numbness
- Dramatic changes in appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Trouble making decisions
- Issues with sleep, including insomnia and nightmares
- Lack of energy, interest or desire to perform every day or normally enjoyable activities
- Physical reactions like body pain, headaches, skin irritation or stomach issues
- Worsening of chronic health conditions
- Increased or new alcohol and drug use
Recognizing the signs, choosing healthy coping mechanisms and seeking medical attention can help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and start you on the path to healing.
Healthy coping mechanisms vary from person to person. However, there are certain strategies that yield consistent success:
- Take breaks from the news and social media. It is great to be informed. However, the constant stream of news can be tiring. Try to be intentional about your news and social media time, limiting exposure to one or two times a day.
- Be consistent with sleep habits. Going to bed and waking up at consistent times every day can help regulate circadian rhythms and decrease stress on your body.
- Try deep breathing and meditation techniques. Different kinds of breathing techniques target different types of stress. Incorporating deep breathing and meditation into your daily routine can bring immediate and long-term benefits.
- Get active. Physical activity is good for your body and mental health. Movement helps promote circulation and your brain's release of positive hormones like endorphins, resulting in immediate stress reduction.
- Connect with others, even virtually. One of the main stressors of the pandemic has been isolation. Even if you are not ready to engage in person, consider joining an online community like a book club, fan page or other organizations.