Managing Pandemic Stress

© Rawpixel –

We are coping with a lot of unrest in our country and in our world right now. If you are already working on a health issue or two, coupled with worries about staying safe and avoiding illness, it’s a lot to handle.

So how can you safely manage stress, without turning to substance use, excess food, restricting food, over-exercise, or other unhealthy behaviors?

Each person has to find their own “sweet spot” of what works for them, but there are some foundational elements that should really be non-negotiable: Eat your meals at regular times, and get enough sleep. If either of those things is not happening, get the help you need.

As a therapist who helps people with depression and anxiety, specially trained to help people with eating disorders, I’m seeing that in such a time of isolation, support is key.

Relationships can be a stressor, yet it is crucial to make sure you have healthy, supportive relationships in your life. Having friends is probably one of our most undervalued commodities. Just sharing our feelings with someone else can be such a pressure release valve.

In fact, I am a therapist because of how strongly I feel about the value of having someone who will listen. But you don’t always have to pay someone; this can be a friend, family member, or another member of a self-help group or other community.

If you don’t feel close with your family, or part of any existing groups, create your own group, or just a couple of people you can go to – just knowing they’re there can be a big help.

Build a network of people who can meet different needs – someone who is nurturing, someone who tells you like it is, someone who listens, etc. And it may be a cliché, but it’s true – laughter is good medicine. So try to include someone in your group who makes you laugh.

Do you have a strong enough support network to carry you through these tense times? Take that first courageous step to reach out. There is also incredible value in supporting others with a listening ear and kind heart. Doing this can strengthen your relationships, boost your self-esteem, and take your mind off your own troubles.