Pandemic Stress: How to Listen To Your Body and Act on It
Stress and anxiety are perfectly natural responses, given what is happening in the world right now. We are all going through uncertain and unprecedented times with no clear end in sight, so it is normal to feel stress, but stress can be detrimental. Humans are used to handling a low level of stress, but many of us are dealing with highly elevated stress levels that go beyond our standard range. Some of us have been living with drastically increased anxiety and worry for months now as the pandemic continues. However, just because you can remain functional with abnormal stress does not mean you should grin and bear it. Extreme or sustained elevated stress can negatively affect your overall health. While you cannot directly combat your stress sources, you can listen to your body and take steps to manage your stress. This might sound easier said than done, but there is a range of ways you can combat pandemic stress and take care of yourself so you are at your best during these turbulent times.
Signs Of Stress
No two people react to stress the same way. Two people could go through the same events and manifest stress in different ways. You should know the general signs of stress so you can keep an eye on yourself. If you notice yourself exhibiting these signs of stress or someone close to you sees them, it may be time to take action to manage your stress. The common symptoms of excessive stress include, but are not limited to:
- Avoiding your favorite activities
- Changes to your eating or sleeping habits
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Increased heart rate
- Increased usage of alcohol or substances
- Unusual irritability
- Stomach and digestion problems
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Feeling depressed or unusually sad
It can be hard to apply these symptoms to yourself as each of these symptoms can manifest in different ways. For example, if you had plans to upgrade to a propane water heater as part of a home renovation project, but have suddenly lost interest, that could be a sign of abnormal and unhealthy stress. To help yourself identify signs of stress, practice self-reflection, and self-awareness so you can notice yourself changing in response to stress.
Even if you do not currently feel the effects of heightened stress, you can always manage the stress in your life. The first step to managing stress is not to compound the stress. Take a break from doom scrolling, set limits on how much you can scroll in one day, and get your essential information from trusted sources. Listen to your physician, global health authorities, and local health recommendations. Knowing the facts can help you protect yourself and your family, but do not become so obsessed that it adds more stress to your already stressful life.
Thankfully, the methods for managing stress are also the steps for living an overall healthy life. No matter how much you might not want to get up, eat, or do things you used to enjoy, it is essential to try. Try to do at least one thing a day you enjoy or help take your mind off your worries. Many experts suggest relaxation and grounding techniques, including breathing exercises. You can get a yoga mat delivered in a few days with a retailer that uses the UPS time in transit API so you can start meditation or mindfulness yoga to keep yourself grounded. Take your relaxation time outside, if possible, as being out in the fresh air can improve your mood.
Sleep is a critical aspect of your health, but too much sleep is just as problematic as not enough sleep. If you are sleeping more than 9 hours a day in addition to elevated stress, it may be time to talk with your doctor to create a personal plan. Sleep is your body’s way to recharge, but the fuel you put in also matters. Skip the junk food, fast food, processed food, and overly sugary foods in favor of healthy and organic foods. Stress eating is a natural response, but reach for a bag of nuts instead of a bag of chips, so you get the katharsis of eating without resorting to unhealthy foods.
Everyone is feeling more stressed than usual right now. Stress might be a natural bodily response, but it can be hard to manage. If you feel yourself exhibiting the signs of stress, it is time to take action. Focus on limiting how much time you spend doom scrolling, getting your necessary information from reputable sources, and living an overall healthy life. Eat a healthy diet, get enough, but not too much sleep, and try to exercise or do something you enjoy at least once a day.