With the COVID-19 pandemic across the world, many people are experiencing more stress than ever. This stress can cause health problems such as headaches, trouble sleeping, muscle pain, upset stomach, and fatigue.
According to Dr. Craig Sawchuk, a Mayo Clinic psychologist, everyone has a “stressometer.” This is a warning from your body that stress may be affecting your overall health.
Dr. Sawchuk explains, “So, one way that we think people experience stress is physically. So, we may experience it in our stomachs. Our sleep gets disrupted. We feel a lot more tense. We can also see it emotionally, sometimes more of that irritability or sometimes even flattening of emotions. Sometimes we see it in terms of how we think, whether it be it’s difficult to concentrate, we’re worrying or ruminating more, or sometimes how we behave.
Sometimes we tend to withdraw, or maybe our eating or drinking starts to pick up. So, it’s really important that we pay attention to our own stressometer.”
Many Ways to Reduce Stress
There are many ways to help reduce stress. Some people find help from practicing relaxation techniques, such as meditation, focused breathing, or massage. Some simple lifestyle changes have also been shown to have an effect on stress levels. Sticking to a healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables and getting plenty of exercise can make a big difference in stress levels.
Maintaining a good sleep routine can also be beneficial for stress reduction. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time each day. Also, reduce screen time before bed and try to avoid caffeine a couple of hours before bedtime. This can make a big difference in the quality of sleep you get.
Many people find it comforting to write a journal if they are struggling with their thinking. By writing down your stressful thoughts, you may be able to look at things in a different way, which may be helpful. Also, be sure to pay attention to your social habits. It is easy to withdraw when feeling stressed, so be sure to set goals of reaching out to others to stay connected to those around you.
It is important to remember that we are all in this together. By being mindful and holding yourself accountable, you can reduce the risk of stress and its related symptoms. By staying healthy yourself, you may able to reach out to a loved one who may be struggling and give them hope to reduce their stress levels as well.