By Rachel Larson, LAMFT

Stress and it’s symptoms

Amid the Coronavirus outbreak and resulting quarantine, there can be a rising sense of stress and anxiety that a person can experience. Accompanying this stress is the uncertainty of the outcome and duration of this quarantine. In this article, we are going to go over the ways in which you can first identify stress and its symptoms, then offer you ways to manage this stress in your daily life.

Below are signs that stress is having an effect on your system:

  • Long periods of poor sleep
  • Regular or severe headaches
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Anger and irritability
  • Loss of interest in activities
  • Continued worrying or obsessive thinking
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Inability to concentrate

If you find that one or more of the symptoms are present in your daily life that were not previously present you might be experiencing stress. Let’s talk about a few different ways to keep this stress manageable in your life.

Recognize what you can and cannot control

When life is stressful it is important to become aware of things that are outside our control and things which we are capable of controlling. For instance we have no control over the duration of or the limitations that will be placed on us during this quarantine, however, we do have the ability to control our reactions to these events. It is also important to take control of the areas of our life where we can do something, eating balanced meals, getting enough sleep, exercising, and limiting our intake of stimulating substances like alcohol and caffeine. When used to supplement for lack of sleep or as a meal replacement caffeine can be known to trigger panic attacks. Limiting our caffeine intake and taking better care of our bodies and minds during this time is paramount to ensure stress is easier to cope with.

Breathe

When feeling stress or anxious, it is typical for us to take short and shallow breaths. Breathing like this does not provide our brains with the necessary oxygen to think and rationalize. It is important to force ourselves to slow down and focus on taking slower and deeper breaths as this practice grounds us and alleviates any tension we might be experiencing. If stress feels so overwhelming that even slowing down to take long deep breaths seems impossible to you, force yourself to count to ten slowly. Focusing on the numbers distracts our minds from the stress we are experiencing, taking our attention away from the circumstances that we cannot control. Breathing this way not only soothes anxiety but it brings us solidly into the present moment, allowing us to be more conscious about our thought patterns and live in the moment.

Stay positive

It is quite easy to think negatively when under stress. We must do all we can to manage these thoughts when they enter our mind and force ourselves to think positively and hopefully. The more we stay in a fixed and defeated mindset the more we limit our ability to innovate and adapt to new environments and circumstances. The more positive and helpful that we are able to keep our minds 3 the better we handle difficult circumstances, whether they be an annual review, a stressful deadline, or a quarantine.

Get some exercise to relieve stress

Not only does exercise produce stress-relieving hormones, but it also creates a chunk of time when you can be alone with your thoughts – or not think about much at all. If you’re feeling stressed out, avoid the temptation to ditch your exercise routine in order to create more time to deal with your problems. If you’re not currently exercising, get out a few times a week and take a brisk 20-minute walk. Getting some vitamin D, as well as some fresh air will not expose you to any possibilities of contamination provided you are complying with the regulations put forward by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

Seek advice

When we are stressed out, our thinking processes start to shut down. We tend to hold to fixed ideas of how things will turn out. However, these fixed ideas may be the opposite of how things will turn out in reality. When we find ourselves in negative thinking patterns it is important to turn to those that are educated and knowledgeable about what we are experiencing. It is wise to seek the advice of those that are more educated on any given subject than ourselves. To quote Sir Francis Bacon, “Knowledge is power.” Therefore gain some power by educating yourselves on what you can do to help prevent the spread of this virus. Proper handwashing, staying home when experiencing cold symptoms, covering coughs and colds, and maintaining the proper distance as recommended by the CDC.

Contact us today

If you or a loved one needs professional counseling or help due to excessive stress during this holiday season, contact us at Eastside Center for Family. We’re here to help.

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