6 Ways to Cope With Stress

February 2021
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Considering current events and the state of the world — pandemic, protests and politics — many people are experiencing high levels of anxiety and stress.

About 40 percent of U.S. adults say “worry or stress related to the coronavirus has had a negative impact on their mental health,” with 46 percent of women and 33 percent of men saying it has impacted their mental health, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

In a recent article, Health magazine talked with several mental health experts about their best tips to cope with stress. Dr. Shannon O’Neill, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, says to try using hypotheticals to your advantage. Perhaps the pandemic has forced you to think about difficult questions like: What if I lose my job? What if I get sick or a loved one gets sick? Answering these can help you establish plans, which can help you feel less nervous about the what-ifs, she says.

Our daily routines have also been upended, and many of us may still be working from home. “Dressing the way you used to might help to restore a sense of normalcy to this decidedly not normal time,” according to Health. Also try finishing up your day with a “virtual commute” by clearing your head for a few minutes after signing off — similar to your walk, drive or ride home from work previously. 

Don’t obsess over the news 24/7 (which can be very frightening). “This is how the news works, giving us the hard and fast truth,” O’Neill says. Instead, set aside a specific time each day to catch up on news, then disconnect from it until the next day. 

Also, it’s important to look for the good news and the silver linings — maybe more time with family or a focus on self-care. We’re all learning to live with a different set of rules while coping with fears and realities — be patient and forgive yourself, the article says.  

Stay in the present and concentrate only on what you can control. “We have to focus on things we do have power over, versus those we don’t,” Dr. Susan Albers, a psychiatrist at Cleveland Clinic, tells Health. “Stop comparing [now to the past and] keep moving forward.”

Here are six ways to help calm your body and mind: 

  1. Answer any what-if questions.
  2. Differentiate your work from the rest of the day.
  3. Monitor your news intake, and look for good news.
  4. Be patient with yourself.
  5. Focus on what you can control, and stay present.
  6. Rest, exercise and eat nutritious foods. 
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