During this stressful time, it’s important to look at all aspects of your well being, including your mental health and stress levels. To date, most of the information about COVID-19 is focused on your physical health, but don’t forgot about staying mentally healthy and managing your stress levels daily.
While everyone reacts to stress differently, stress also offers some common symptoms and signs, too. The first step to managing stress and mental health is to know the early signs of distress and mental health issues.
Here just a few of the signs of stress:
To identify your stress sources, you will need to take a look at all of the small aspects of your lifestyle. Keeping a journal of your daily activities and your feelings during those activities is a good start for creating a low-stress life.
That’s because you need to recognize where the stress is coming from before you can begin to work with it. Many people are “generally” stressed and have not spent the time to sit down and think about what the actual causes of the stress are.
The easiest way to identify stress causes is by listening to your body. Most people react to stress in one of several ways.
Changes in Appetite
Changes in appetite are one of the most common symptoms of stress. In fact, stress and eating are closely related. Some people deal with stress by eating very little and some people deal with stress by eating more – comfort eating. It’s good to become aware of any changes within a diet so that the root cause can then be sought after.
Even eating disorders like anorexia can be caused by a stressful event. Many people are unable to eat or find food to be unappetizing when they are under extreme pressure. An event like a move or a change in jobs can sometimes set off this stress reaction.
Not eating enough and overeating can have harmful effects on your body so it’s good to notice when it becomes an issue. Stress-eating can create health problems like obesity and heart disease. If you are noticing changes in your eating habits, including binge eating, stress may be the cause.
Changes in Behavior
Changes in behavior can also be an indication of stress. Because people handle stress in different ways, these changes are not as easily spotted as appetite changes.
Many people become moody or angry during a stressful event. This anger can be directed at friends and family members and might seem to come from nowhere. Mood changes that puzzle friends and family can cause more stress because they often lead to arguments and hurt feelings.
A lack of emotion or the loss of the feelings of enjoyment that are normally present in your life can also be a sign of stress. Some people hide their stressful emotions and become silent when faced with adverse situations. These people often ignore stress symptoms until physical damage occurs. High blood pressure and anxiety can come from suppressing emotions during stressful events.
Changes in Body Functions
Changes in bodily functions like bowel habits are also a sign of stress. Extreme changes such as frequent diarrhea or vomiting can cause damage to the digestive system and other organs. Symptoms like these should be mentioned to a doctor.
Many people have changes in their skin condition when they are under pressure. Pimples and dark circles under the eyes can come from stressful situations – even eczema has been linked to stress and many teenagers will get skin conditions during an exam period.
It is best to try to identify the causes of your stress symptoms so that you can prevent those symptoms from becoming dangerous to your health. Creating a journal of your symptoms and feelings will help you to pinpoint those stressful situations so that you know where the stress in your life is coming from. Stress can come from the most interesting places.
Here are Some Quick Fixes to Reduce Stress Naturally:
Reducing your reaction to stress is a good way to begin controlling its effect on your life. You can use some quick relaxation techniques to calm yourself during a stressful event in order to limit any damage and to get yourself onto the right path as quick as possible.
Get More Sleep
Stress alters your sleep patterns. Stress has been shown to increase time in REM sleep. Time spent in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) is an important sleep stage. It is during this stage your body restores mental function. Research shows this stage helps individual to manage stress while awake.
Many are turning to melatonin-rich cherry juice daily to fall a sleep fast and sleep long. In fact, according to a published study, cherries are natures #1 source of naturally occurring melatonin.
In a 2014 published study, participants suffering from insomnia drank 2 eight glasses of cherry juice daily for two weeks. Those who drank the tart cherry juice reported an average increase of sleep time of 85 minutes over those who drank the placebo.
The most important and easiest way to reduce stress quickly is by controlling your breathing. This might seem like a silly idea, but deep breaths are the body’s way of “resetting” itself.
You can begin by taking several deep breathes. Inhale slowly through your nose until your lungs are full of fresh oxygen. Then, exhale through your mouth in a steady breath. Repeating this exercise several times during a stressful situation can actually slow your heart rate and calm your body. When your mind is racing, deep breaths can change your focus enough to allow you to relax and rethink your situation.
Communication is another quick stress-relief exercise. You can share your stresses and worries with your friends and family. A hug or a pat on the back can be a great way to make you feel less anxious. Knowing that other people share your anxiety is often a relief in itself. Talking about the things that cause your anxiety or stress will often make those situations seem less dire.
Good advice from a trusted friend is sometimes all the stress-relief a person requires. Expressing your feelings, including anger or resentment, can allow you to release those emotions. The process of communication can also help to create bonds between yourself and a friend.
Saying “no” is another great stress-relieving technique. Taking on too many projects or making yourself available beyond what you can handle is a large cause of daily stress. If you are not able to complete a project, try not to begin that project. If you are planning a large event, delegate some of the jobs to other people. Sharing the workload can keep your stress to a minimum. Say “no” and your stress levels will immediately decrease. You don’t have to be a martyr and try to do it all.
Exercise is also a wonderful stress-reliever. When you feel the anxiety building in your system, take a quick walk around the building. You could try walking during your lunch hour or even join a gym to get some quality exercise time.
The time spent working your body helps to return your mental focus to its best level. Since the body and the mind are connected, relaxing your body will help to relax you mentally.
Exercise is a great way to reduce stressful effects on your body. Exercise can lower blood pressure and reduce the hormones in your body that respond to stress.