While we may have found ourselves a bit in denial last year, it became abundantly clear that the “Pandemic” we were introduced to 13 months ago packed bigger and had a longer-lasting punch than expected. Not only has the pandemic stolen so many lives, it’s left people more stressed than ever! When you put into perspective the number of people facing loss, it’s devastating!  Losing jobs, losing relationships, losing their “normalcy,” as well maybe even losing loved ones. While stress is always individual, collectively we have weathered quite a storm together. While this storm hasn’t fully cleared, the stressful impacts are being felt now. Let’s continue to cope with this together.

Before this pandemic swept in many of us wore our micro-stresses like a badge of honor. In hindsight, we were proud to share we were, “stressed,” thinking it was proof that we were hard workers, great parents or in general putting in more effort than others. Hopefully, we have come to see how silly that really was. While we can’t control how much stress we have in our lives, factors like a pandemic can surely add on extra pressures, worries and fears. Wrap those emotions up and you might be left with a big package of, well, stress.

In relation to Covid, we are faced with chronic stress. This is something that has become all too familiar for many of us. While we are all experiencing this together, many are suffering in silence and alone.  Unfortunately, this inability to cope can impact our health too. Stress is much like other illnesses; it needs care and attention to become manageable and to lessen its lasting impact. While stress can’t always be cured, we can find ways to cope.

Each person will cope with stress differently. For you it may be finding joy and humor, while someone else uses exercise to deal with these new pressures. Get to know what brings you some relief. Are you someone who feels things strongly at first and needs to share? Are you someone who finds yourself overeating when under stress? Do you take your stress out on other people? Identifying what works for you won’t just help you personally but will help you to better assist those around you too.

Some ways of coping include:

Mindlessness – Watch TV, listen to music, scroll the internet. Just do something mindless and fun.

Unplug – Sometimes too much news or seeing too many posts on social media can cause more stress!

Move – Moving your body can release feel good chemicals! It can also boost your confidence. Dance, stretch, walk or whatever you choose.

Breathe with a Purpose – Take some time to just “be,” and breathe. Feel yourself breathe, listen to it, allow it to come and go.

Eat well – If you want to feel well, you need to eat well. Eat foods that make you feel great.

Go to bed – Lack of sleep only exacerbates stress. Go to bed earlier. Take naps if you need to!

Skip alcohol and substances – Before you know it you may be relying on these more than you think.

Get Vaccinated – Some people who are very stressed about Covid might feel a sense of relief knowing they are better protected.

Connect – Call, text, facetime, and zoom! We’re social beings even if you think you aren’t. Make the effort.

Seek Professional Support – Call a therapist or other mental health professional.

Coping doesn’t mean living in denial or ignoring stress. Stress is real and it can sneak into every part of your life. Unmanaged stress can start to have damaging effects in all parts of your life. Coping is recognizing stress is real. Coping is learning what helps you manage your stress. Coping is finding a way to feel, think and act in a way you feel good about. The inability to cope – that’s what’s dangerous; even more dangerous if you are facing this alone or in silence.

Resources of support:

If you are in crisis, get immediate help and call 911

National Suicide Prevention: 1-800-273-TALK

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE

Veteran’s Crisis Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK

Disaster Distress Hotline: 1-800-985-5990

The Eldercare Hotline: 1-800-677-1116

We are a community and we need to learn how to care and cope together. If your stress is becoming something that’s stealing your job, impacting your lifestyle, your work and/or relationships, it’s time to get help! Just as much as you would want support for your loved-ones and neighbors, you should want that for yourself too. Support is just like stress – it’s different for everyone. Start to think about what might work well for you. Make a coping list! Who to call when such and such happens? What to do when you feel a certain way? How to reach the right people or places if your stress becomes too much? Plan now so that if you need it, it’s there. You will also have great resources to share if someone else needs it as well.

Hans Selye said, “It’s not the stress that kills us, it’s how we react to it.” Let’s take the right actions to make sure we aren’t dying to stress but living by how well we are coping. Let’s do this together! No one is ever in their stress alone. It’s together that we get through times just as crazy, confusing, and uncertain as these. As a community, let’s cope through Covid (and life in general) together.