Life brings all of us times of stress, anxiety, and even moments of fleeting depression.  Add the impact and effects of COVID-19 to that mix and life is nowhere close to what everyday life once was.  Do you know where your anxiety and depression levels are during this crisis?

Why get screened?

Stress has a powerful impact on your overall health and can affect your body, thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Sometimes you may not realize how stressed you are and mistakenly believe that your headaches or poor sleep are from an illness or “just one of those things”.  Over time, stress can contribute to the development of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.  Learning to recognize stress can help you begin to manage it and can provide you with many health benefits.

Who should get screened?

Stress can show up in many ways and each person experiences stress differently. Here are some common effects stress has on your body, mood and behavior:

Body Mood Behavior
Headaches and/or backaches Fear and/or anxiety Change in appetite such as over or under eating
Muscle tension or pain Restlessness Misuse of drugs or alcohol
Fatigue Inability to focus or lack of motivation Starting or increasing tobacco use
Chest pain Feeling overwhelmed and/or difficulty making decisions Anger outbursts or excessive crying
Changes in sex drive Irritability and anger Isolating or socially withdrawing from friends and family
Stomach upset Sadness and depression Exercising less or stopping completely
Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep Feeling powerless or loss of control Stopping activities or hobbies you once enjoyed

Understanding Ways to Help Manage Stress

You are not alone. It’s normal to have difficulty managing feelings after major tragedies, times of change, or during times of uncertainty such as COVID-19. Because everyone experiences stress differently, don’t compare yourself with others or judge other people’s reactions and emotions.

Here are some tips for managing stress:

Talk about it.

By talking with others, stress can be relieved through the realization that others share the experience and feelings. Ask for help if you need it. Talk to your family, friends, your health care provider, or mental health professional.

Take care of yourself.

  • Get regular physical activity
  • Practice relaxation techniques such as mediation, yoga, tai chi, massage, and deep breathing.
  • Spend time with friends and family. They can help you through this tough time. If your family lives outside the area, stay in touch by phone if possible. If children are around, encourage them to share their feelings and concerns.
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet
  • Get plenty of sleep. To help you get more sleep here are some ideas for creating a sleep hygiene routine:
    • Be consistent and go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning.
    • Make sure your bedroom is quiet, dark, relaxing, and at a comfortable temperature
    • Don’t use electronics in the bedroom such as TVs, computers, and smartphones and be sure to shut them down at least one hour prior to going to bed
    • Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before going to bed
    • If you find yourself awake for more than 20 minutes, get out of bed and go to another room to read or relax until you feel you can go back to sleep
  • Avoid tobacco use or excessive caffeine and alcohol and the use of illegal substances. Drugs and alcohol may seem to help improve feelings, but in the long run they generally create additional problems that compound the stress that is already there.

Take back control

  • Take one thing at a time.
  • Break your work or chores up into doable tasks.
  • Complete one task first and then move on to the next one.
  • Completing each task will provide a sense of accomplishment and make things seem less overwhelming.