By Dr. Rashidat Akinyemi, PsyD
We all know that stress is part of life and managing it can be difficult. Stress management has become even more difficult with the ongoing pandemic. COVID-19 has been with us for the past 18 months or so and life as we know it has changed. The recent surge of the Delta variant has also brought on more stress related to vaccination, the return to school, and the possibility of business closures.
The pandemic brought on a different level of stress that most people, including myself, have never had to deal with. We had to figure out how to manage ongoing stress while trying to stay physically healthy and remain connected to others. Maintaining relationships and social contact during COVID-19 can be difficult with social distancing, masking, and other safety guidelines.
Here are five tips for managing stress during the pandemic:
- Educate yourself. Know where to get your information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Refer to credible sources, such as the CDC website, for guidance. It might be best to limit how much news you are watching to avoid information overload.
- Eat well. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and grains to maintain a well-balanced diet. Proper nutrition promotes a good sense of well-being and can enable you to better handle the stress of the pandemic.
- Exercise. It is important to stay fit during the pandemic. You want to make sure you are moving around on a daily basis and exercising your muscles to generate feel-good chemicals in the brain.
- Engage with others. Maintain some level of engagement with family, colleagues, friends, and other sources of social support. Isolation is strongly linked to greater levels of stress. Stay connected with video calls, telephone calls, emails, and text messages.
- Entertain yourself. Take on a project or engage in activities that you really enjoy. You can watch movies, listen to music, or take on a new hobby. Do things that make you feel like yourself again!
How do you know when it's time to seek help?
Here are some signs that treatment may be a good idea:
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Significant decrease or increase in appetite
- Depression that persists or days or weeks
- Mood swings
- Distorted perception of time
Consider scheduling an appointment with a therapist if you continue to experience two or more these signs for more than a week. Talking to a therapist can help you figure out the best way to manage your stress during the pandemic so you can get back to functioning at an optimal level and feeling your best.