How to Manage Stress During the COVID-19 Season
Written by Lakshmi Krishnanunni
The spiralling COVID-19 cases keep generating fear globally as there is a steep rise in the number of cases day by day in most parts of the world. The overwhelming news about the waves of the new COVID-19 strain is also creating anxiety with the numbers going high and hospital spaces running low. Amidst this pandemic, there is no doubt that our minds will be under loads of stress which can affect us both physically and mentally. Placing ourselves in a positive frame of mind is definitely the need of the hour. Apart from this, to curb the spread of the virus, CDC and WHO have put forward a set of rules and regulations like social distancing and self-isolation, which itself can cause high levels of stress and even isolation.
Which group of individuals is more likely to suffer from high levels of stress?
Stress can affect people of all age groups and all walks of life irrespective of gender and ethnicity. However, stress can particularly affect individuals like:
- Older people and individuals with a chronic medical condition
- Teenagers and children
- Front line workers who help in taking care of COVID-19 patients
- Individuals with medical conditions including substance abuse
The signs and symptoms of stress:
A stressful situation can manifest in a variety of forms like emotional, physical, and behavioural symptoms. The symptoms shown in individuals experiencing stress include:
- Changes in sleep-wake habits
- Muscle tension
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Weight gain
- Muscle pain
- Loss of energy or enthusiasm
- Mood changes
Tips to manage and reduce stress during the COVID-19 times:
Here are a few of the best and sure-fire ways of managing stress during the COVID-19 times of uncertainty. We have listed out some recommendations for you to cope with your stress levels. Taking on board the tips below every day really makes a difference!
Opt for quick body movements:
Though there are still restrictions in place to access a gym or other workout studios, you can still go for a short walk or use your indoor space for doing exercise. While you exercise, your body releases endorphins, a chemical that relaxes your body and mind. So, get moving and tune your body to keep your stress levels low.
Prioritize healthy foods:
Too much stress affects your metabolism and increases your food cravings. Practice mindful eating and always arrange your snack cabin with healthy snacks as too much fried or junk foods, and sweetened beverages can increase the risk of certain illnesses. Hence, arming and preparing yourself with healthy eating options is one of the best ways to deal with your stress levels.
Connect with your family and friends:
Fear of isolation during the pandemic times increases anxiety and stress levels. Connecting with your friends either virtually or through social media, tools can bring happy moments back in your life.
Limit your news and media usage:
Staying well-informed is the need of the hour, but seeking too much information from the news and media can put you in an unwanted mental state of rumination whereby it makes you more stressed, anxious and worried. It is good to avoid overconsumption of news which helps to prevent yourself from potentially falling victim to misinformation.
Meditation, which has been practised for more than thousands of years is an eye-opener for maintaining overall health and well-being. Focusing on your deep breath is the best and simplest way that helps to control your stress levels. Regular meditation for just a few minutes every day helps to restore inner peace and bring calmness thereby it manages the symptoms of certain medical conditions and illnesses. A few elements that you need to focus your attention on are relaxed breathing, open attitude, and a comfortable sitting position.
Construct a good daily self-care ritual:
Organize your daily routine and try to have it at the same time each day. Include everything that you do from the start of the day till you hit the bed like exercising, cooking healthy meals, gardening, painting, chatting with your dear and near ones, journaling, reading, to name a few. Doing daily activities on time, keeps you engaged and brings down your stress levels.
A lot of factors can increase your stress levels but tackling them is the need of the hour. The world has passed through different pandemic journeys and has settled down to a normal life after taking good measures, and putting the guidelines into practice daily as suggested by the health departments. During this pandemic times, self-isolation, financial crises, losing loved ones, and fear can take a toll on both our physical and mental health. Hence, to help you out, we have here for you a few stress-relieving tips. Follow them and always look for the light at the end of the tunnel!