How we react emotionally to chronic stress can have a cascading effect on our physical health. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
If left unchecked, the stress we feel may contribute to serious health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and other physical illnesses. It also can lead to mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, according to information from the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH).
And with so much isolation and many unknowns surrounding the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), it has made life even more stressful and challenging. Whether you’re a caregiver, a family member or someone who’s dealing with the emotional toll of being isolated from family and friends because of COVID-19, the stress is real.
The effects of the pandemic might also have you or your loved ones feeling a lack of purpose from the absence of activities, volunteer work or religious services. Or maybe you or your family members are feeling the pressure of declining physical health, cognitive abilities or the financial impact of the current economy.
Whatever the case, you don’t have to let stress take over.
Here are a few steps you can take to help yourself or your loved ones at home and increase everyone’s emotional wellbeing:
- Hold on to Positive Emotions: Resilience is what happens when you have fewer negative emotions and you’re able to bounce back from challenges more quickly. One way to increase resilience is to cherish the good times and hold on to that feeling. Looking at photos of your good times can remind you of that feeling, too.
- Pay Attention to Your Sleep: When you’re not sleeping enough, it negatively affects your physical and mental health. You tend to react to stressors more intensely. Adequate sleep helps you think clearer and focus better, which leads to less stress.
- Boost Social Connections: Research indicates that we’re happier and healthier emotionally and physically when we’re connected with others. Those connections could be with friends and family, neighbors as well as romantic relationships. Of course, right now, in-person connections are limited due to physical distancing. Instead, be sure to call or video chat with your loved ones and friends to feel that needed sense of connection.
- Be Mindful: Mindfulness means being completely aware of what’s happening in the moment. This means you avoid operating on “auto pilot” because you’re aware of all that’s occurring within and around you in the present time. It takes practice to do, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll feel less stressed.
- Seek Help with Emotions: If the stress is starting to produce feelings of anxiety or depression, talk to someone. This can be a family member or a mental health professional.
Another way to lessen stress levels is to call in help when you need it for any other area of your life. At Life Managers & Associates (LMA) we can handle many details of life to take the stress off of you and your loved ones like bill paying, home organization and maintenance, scheduling home health aide visits and setting up video chats with family members, just to name a few of our services. We also are adept at anticipating the future needs and challenges of our clients, so worry is minimized for everyone.