3 Signs of Stress & 5 Self-Care Tips to Try Now
March 19, 2021
COVID-19 isn’t just a dangerous disease. It can also be a source of significant stress and anxiety. From binging the news to increasing your alcohol intake, these feelings manifest in different ways for different people. So how do you know if your coronavirus stress is getting out of control? Here are three red flags to watch for, as well as tips to boost your mental health and well-being.
Red Flag #1: Habit Changes
If you find yourself eating more or less than usual, or struggling to fall asleep, it might be due to stress. Also, stay mindful of how much you indulge in alcohol, tobacco and other drugs. Increased substance use is another warning sign that your stress levels are too high.
Red Flag #2: Physical Symptoms
When you’re having an off day, tune in to your body and try to pinpoint what’s wrong. Are you feeling overly tired? Does your stomach hurt? Do you have a headache? Stress could be the culprit.
Red Flag #3: Emotional Effects
Not only does stress affect your body, but it can also seriously mess with your emotions. And we’re not just talking about being worried or anxious. When you’re stressed, you might feel angry, irritable, or like you can’t focus on anything.
5 Self-Care Tips to Try Now
Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re having more anxiety than usual. Life during a pandemic can be difficult to navigate. To help bring some balance back to your life, prioritize these self-care steps:
1. Unplug from the news.
Constantly looking at news feeds and hearing about the virus isn’t helping your anxiety. Set a rule that you’ll only check in one or two times per day.
2. Find healthy distractions.
To avoid fixating on negative thoughts, switch your focus. Pick up a book or jump into a new TV series or podcast. Experiment with a new recipe, tackle a puzzle, or work on a home improvement or organizing project.
3. Take care of your body.
Supporting your physical health does a lot for your mental well-being. Try to eat healthy meals, exercise regularly (there are countless free online workout videos that you can do at home!) and get plenty of sleep.
4. Stay in touch.
Whether it’s via video chat or phone call, connect with loved ones and share honestly about how you’re feeling.
5. Reach out for support.
If your stress lingers or starts to get worse, talk with a health care provider. Another useful resource is the Disaster Distress Hotline, a 24/7 service that provides crisis counseling. Call (800) 985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained counselor. And if you ever contemplate hurting yourself or others, dial 911.
“Feeling Stressed About Coronavirus (COVID-19)? Managing Anxiety in an Anxiety-Provoking Situation.” Office of Mental Health, New York State. omh.ny.gov/omhweb/guidance/covid-19-managing-stress-anxiety.pdf.
“Manage Anxiety & Stress.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html.
“Manage Stress.” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. health.gov/myhealthfinder/topics/health-conditions/heart-health/manage-stress.