With all of the talk about the COVID-19 (coronavirus), many of us are on high alert which may increase our stress levels. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, everyone experiences stress from time to time. These stressors can affect individual’s mental health as well as their physical health. Some individuals are able to cope with stress more effectively whereas others may find it difficult or even overwhelming. Stress can affect individuals in a variety of ways.

Stress can cause emotional changes. Individuals may experience feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, confusion, and even sadness. Unaddressed stress for some can contribute to symptoms of depression. Stress can also result in behavioral changes such as becoming withdrawn, irritability, being inflexible or indecisive, and even tearful. Stress can affect the way individuals interact with family, friends and coworkers. Our bodies may also be affected by stress. Individuals may experience headaches, nausea and gastrointestinal issues such as heartburn, indigestion, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, constipation and associated lower abdominal pain.

So, what are we to do during this stressful time? Yes, we follow the directives of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO). In addition to these things we can seek to decrease our stress levels. Set aside time to talk with your family regarding your concerns. Include your children in the conversations as they too may be experiencing symptoms of stress as well and not know how to verbalize it. Practice focused relaxation. Practice deep and full body breathing. Take time out to pray and meditate. Go to bed at a time which will allow you to get an ample amount of sleep. Eat healthy well-balanced meals. Incorporate aroma therapy into your day. Whether it’s watching a movie, reading a book or talking with friends and family, set time to laugh deliberately. Practice yoga, tai chi or some other form of relaxation activity. Write your thoughts in a journal, take up painting or drawing or start a scrapbook.

Yes, this is a very stressful time for all of us but I encourage us all to be safe and decrease our stress levels as much as possible. Stay safe.


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