Medical Minutes: Answers to frequently asked questions
Stress During the Pandemic
Question: How can I manage stress during the Coronavirus Pandemic?
What is stress?
Stress is the body’s reaction to any change that requires an adjustment or response. The body reacts to these changes with physical, mental and emotional responses.
How can I reduce stress to better cope during the pandemic?
Stay Active – Exercise, exercise, exercise! This is probably the most important stress management tool. It releases those feel-good endorphins and improves energy levels. Even just 20-30 minutes per day can do this. Consider walking, biking, running and hiking, as well as online exercise classes or videos.
Maintain a Healthy Diet – Stress can adversely affect both your eating habits and your metabolism. The best way to combat stress or emotional eating is to be mindful of your triggers and to be ready to fight the urge.
Get Enough Sleep and Rest – Stress can increase when you don’t get enough sleep, so try to get the recommended amount of sleep for you and keep your bedtime consistent. Avoid stimulants like caffeine before bed and limit your alcohol intake which can disrupt your sleep quality.
Breathe – Try mindful breathing several times a day. Breathing helps use to calm down and improves our concentration.
Embrace Humor – Humor is a natural stress-management tool. Laughter relieves anxiety, lowers stress hormones, and helps us to calm down. As much as we can, we need to laugh and just take it easy.
Think Positively – Start every day on a positive note. Tell yourself that it’s going to be a great day. Listen to happy music and focus on the good things in your life. Try to express your gratitude to someone at least once a day. Identify your areas of negativity and tackle one area at a time.
Connect to Reduce Isolation – Reach out to family, friends, colleagues and your favorite community groups for social contact. Call, FaceTime, Zoom, Skype or try Google Hangouts to reduce your isolation. Meaningful and fun connection, emotional support and healthy problem solving are vital to your health and well-being.
Seek treatment if necessary – If you feel like nothing is working, contact your health care provider or a mental health professional who can help guide you through the issues you are having. This is particularly important for people who have a history of a mental health condition, so put yourself first.