COVID-19 has put an incredible strain on individuals and is reflected in an unprecedented need for mental health services. Anxiety and heightened stress surrounding returning to school and work is to be expected and there are steps that can be taken to manage this stress. This is a time that is going to call for patience, understanding, and empathy not just for others but for yourself as well.
Stress can cause the following:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or illicit substances
Healthy Ways to Cope with Stress
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
- Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, ) as recommended by your healthcare provider.
- Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine when available.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. You trust about your concerns and how you are
- Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that this is a difficult time and not to hold yourself to unrealistic
Recognize when Stress can lead to Anger
The feeling of anger can be attributed to a perceived loss of control and there isn’t a better example of this then how COVID-19 has changed everyday life for everyone. People’s way of life changed quickly during the pandemic. Individuals have had to deal with a variety of new and/or worsened challenges including but not limited to mental health concerns, childcare needs, job loss, food insecurity, domestic violence, substance addiction, and fear of COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 has created challenges where a person is quicker to anger because of prolonged exposure to high stress. Be mindful of your anger by using a 10 point scale and having a plan for yourself when you feel your anger level rise.
What Anger Looks Like and Knowing the Signs:
- Becoming tense, clenching fist or jaw
- Raising your voice
- Shaking or trembling
- Becoming hot or flushed in the face
- Using sarcasm
- Hyper-focusing on the source of anger
Creating a Plan and Using Coping Skills for Managing Anger in the Moment:
- Take a walk and remove yourself from the stressful situation
- Listen to music
- Drink Water / Grip an ice cube
- Call a friend or family member
- Perform rigorous exercise such as jumping jacks or going for a run
- Take deep breaths
- Count to 10 / name objects around you / recite a mantra
Know When to Seek Counseling
Mental Health Counseling is an option for people who feel like their stress is becoming unmanageable. If you find that your level of stress is interfering with everyday activities such as school or work then consider accessing mental health counseling. A trained professional can help a person to identify, process and implement a treatment plan for stress that is having a significant impact on mental health. If you are in need of accessing mental health counseling please call Bedford Youth and Family Services Dept. at 781-275-7727.
Adapted from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021). Coping with Stress. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html
The Violence Prevention Coalition of Bedford is a citizen group for peace, tolerance, cooperation, and outreach in the community, established in 1997, whose members believe that all forms of violence are unacceptable and that community life requires non-violent resolution of conflict.