Stress During the Covid Crisis

Even though the Covid-19 pandemic has left its mark, there are ways you can cope.

As we all know, the COVID pandemic has managed to suddenly upend everyone’s life in some way over the past year.  With school closures forcing kids, parents, and teachers to instantly adapt to a new style of learning, scores of employees having to maintain their productivity while adapting to a “work from home” lifestyle, short supplies of PPE, vital supplies, and even grocery items, the ever-increasing job demands placed on essential workers, and of course the grief over losses of family members from coronavirus and the ever-present threat of becoming infected with the virus, it’s perfectly understandable how our stress levels might seem to be on high alert these days.  However, even though reactions to stress like irritability, sleep disturbances, changes in our eating habits, and headaches and muscle tension are common when we’re stressed, there are ways to help us better cope with what we may be feeling.

How stressed are you?  Identifying your overall stress level is a great first step to being able to better cope with stress.  Lots of free stress checkers can be found online-try a quick google search of terms such as “free stress level assessment” or “stress questionnaire” to find some.  Our picks:

Coping Tips for Stress

While there are lots of things you can do to help manage stress-such as gardening, exercise, reading, soaking in a hot bath, and connecting with friends-perhaps the best strategies involve tasks and activities that are meaningful and bring you joy in some way.  It might take some trial and error, but finding what works for you and doing those things will serve you well in helping you relax and find your inner Zen.  Still need some tips?

Try the Pause/Reset/Nourish approach for managing stress in the moment. First, pause and check in with yourself and your breathing, and take a few deep breaths using the 4-4-4-4 method: take a slow, deep breath in while you count to 4; hold that breath for 4 seconds; and breathe out as fully while you count to 4.  The last 4 in this method reminds you to take 4 slow, deep breaths.  Then pause to check how you feel-are you feeling muscle tension in your shoulders, back, neck, or anywhere else in your body?

Next, reset and nourish by doing something that will focus your attention in a positive direction; this is especially helpful when your negative thoughts or emotions seem larger than life.  Ask yourself, what would be soothing and nourishing for me right now? Take a short walk, do some stretching exercises, visualize a beautiful, peaceful place, follow along to a short guided meditation, or engage in your personal spirituality practices-anything that will give you a well-deserved chance to reset your psyche.  Research has shown that recognizing the presence of negative thoughts or feelings and then doing something positive to interrupt them in turn calms the body’s physical reactions to them, helping people to feel better.  Our picks:

Try online classes and activities.

With the migration of everything from schoolwork to birthday parties being held online these days thanks to web-based meeting platforms such as zoom, the number of free online classes and activities has grown exponentially.  Like to read? Search out book clubs.  Ditto for things like crafting, gardening, exercise, and local history-trust me, google might just become one of your new best friends when it comes to finding what you’re looking for!  Our picks:

  • Search out Independent Living’s Wellness Wednesday zoom meetings, where they cover a new topic each week: ILI Zoom Groups

Develop a regular self-care practice.  

Since we’re all individuals, everyone has different ideas about what is fun and enjoyable and what helps them when they’re feeling stressed out.  Bottom line-find ways to connect every day with the people, places, and activities that bring you joy and a sense of well-being, even if it’s for just a few minutes.


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Cuellar, R., Rains, M., Hendricks, A., Hirsh-Wright, A., Valenti, S, Grosso, C., Louie, K. & Brymer M. (2020). Pause – Reset – Nourish (PRN)* to Promote Wellbeing: Use as Needed to Care for Your Wellness! Los Angeles, CA, and Durham, NC: National Center for Child Traumatic Stress.

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