Community Health Survey

5 Ways to Maintain Stress Levels During COVID

5 Ways to Maintain Stress Levels During COVID

To say that 2020 has been a stressful year is an understatement. A research study by UNC-Chapel Hill and Harvard University revealed that 55 percent of respondents felt more stressed this past spring when compared to the beginning of the year, as the pandemic got into full swing. This number has likely increased as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has increased considerably. 

This public health crisis’ emotional impact is being felt all over the country—and the world. Additionally, you are having to run your household and make ends meet in this landscape while facing a growing economic downturn. How can you manage your stress level during this time? We have some tips on staying grounded and moving through this pandemic with your mental health intact. 

Acknowledge The Stress 

You can’t manage a problem if you don’t acknowledge it. It is normal to feel anxious about what is currently happening. Therefore, don’t feel as if you shouldn’t feel the way you are feeling. Start paying attention to your emotions and any common attributes associated with stress. Stress can bring anxious thoughts, sleep disruption, increased irritability, and even headaches and significant weight fluctuations. If you see these signs, acknowledge that stress could be the cause so you can create a plan to handle it. 

Take A Break From The News 

It’s important to understand that continually consuming information about a worrisome event can significantly contribute to stress. A recent study found that 68 percent of Americans feel that social media and news are causing them anxiety during the pandemic. So, yes, you can consume too much news and media at one time. 

You want to be informed, but you also don’t want to subject yourself to constant negative information. Therefore, it’s essential to limit the amount of news you watch. You may want to turn off automatic news notifications on your phone or only tune in once a day for five to 10 minutes. It’s also vital to pick news sources that share accurate information. You don’t want to be stressed over events that may or may not be valid. 

Stress-Proof Your Diet 

Did you know that what you eat can contribute to your stress levels? Well, it should come as no secret that healthy foods can improve your stress and overall mental health. Certain foods can block hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which are both responsible for feelings of anxiety and stress. Specifically, whole-grain bread, oatmeal, various fruits, and leafy greens can help you handle those anxious thoughts. 

Additionally, sugary and processed foods can increase hormones that lead to stress. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying your favorite snacks every once-in-awhile, but you mostly want to consume healthier options when possible. Lastly, don’t forget to add in exercise with your eating. Physical activity is an excellent strategy for diminishing stress, as it can increase endorphins, which are another helpful hormone for reducing stress. 

Ask For Help 

Again, these are challenging times. What is happening in recent history is unprecedented. Therefore, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. There are many resources out there for you if you need to talk with someone about your stress. Speak with your healthcare provider about visiting a licensed counselor. 

If you do not have health insurance, Better Health and Open Path Collective offer flexible and more affordable payment options to speak with a mental health professional. Talking with someone who is trained to help you build stress management strategies can make it easier to move through these times healthily. 

Stay Connected With Others 

Yes, you may not be able to interact with your friends and family during this time physically. However, technology has come a long way in helping us to stay connected. Research has shown that socialization can decrease depressive feelings and even boost brain health—two things significantly impacted by stress. Taking the time to catch up for 15 minutes over a Zoom call with a friend or enjoying an online game with a family member can help you stay grounded. 

Your Mental Health Should Be A Priority During This Time 

Again, you—and many others—are facing a very different world due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This event makes it incredibly normal that you would be experiencing feelings of stress. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that you understand that stress doesn’t have to be a regular fixture in your life. 

When left unchecked, stress can lead to other health issues like depression, anxiety disorders, heart disease, kidney disease, and other mental and physical illnesses. If you are not feeling like yourself, start to take time to acknowledge your feelings. Focus on changing your diet, getting more physical activity into your routine, and asking for help. Having a plan to manage your stress during this time will help you make your mental and physical health a priority. 

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