A year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still experiencing soaring stress and grappling to find ways to cope.

Shifting to working-from-home, facing layoffs or shutdowns, home-schooling children, and abiding by social distancing rules…  Topping it off with public health restrictions and vaccination rollouts – it all feels surreal.

According to the latest APA Stress in America survey, we are experiencing the highest stress levels since April 2020.  84% of Americans are feeling emotions associated with prolonged stress.

So how do we handle our stress reactions in a sustainable and healthy manner? Here are a few tips to consider:

Monitor Content

Regulate your exposure to news and social media to reduce the amount of negative and anxiety-inducing content you consume.

If possible, consume news content in the morning vs evening time, lower your screen usage by reading a book instead of watching TV, go for a phone-free stroll during your lunch break, or remove all devices from your bedroom before bed.

Embrace Wholesome Routines

Make time for self-care practices to replenish your mind and body—whatever that means to you.  Whether it’s cooking nourishing meals, hiking or walking in nature, looking inward through mindful meditation, or joining an online dance class… Find what feels good.

Remember, self-care isn’t selfish and can take many forms, including pure rest or doing nothing at all.

Stay in Touch

We are all Zoom-fatigued or drained by countless conference calls, online birthday parties, and baby showers.  Yet, there are still many other ways to connect with your loved ones with intention and safety in mind.

Take a friend out for a distanced coffee walk, have a date at the park, or keep it classic with a traditional phone call.  Even quick text check-ins can help you support one another through this challenging time.

Practice Gratitude

Building positivity and hope through gratitude is an excellent alternative to doomsday mindsets and behaviors.  A 2005 study by Seligman et al. shows that gratitude is a powerful tool to increase happiness and lower depression symptoms.

Some of the exercises tested in the study include:

  • Gratitude visit: Write a gratitude letter and deliver it in person to someone particularly special. This action caused the largest positive changes in the study for up to one month.
  • Three good things in life: Write three things that go well each day and why. Study participants who did this every night for a week reported being happier and less depressed up to six months later.

Try one or both of these techniques and open up your heart to the joy of gratitude.

Tap Into Self-Compassion

Research suggests that self-compassion can play a significant role when coping with life’s stressors. “People who are self-compassionate are less likely to catastrophize negative situations, experience anxiety following a stressor, and avoid challenging tasks for fear of failure,” state, Allen and Leary.

Practice the elements of self-compassion as proposed by Dr. Kristin Neff:

  • Self-kindness vs. self-judgment. Treat yourself the way you would a loved one or a friend, even if you feel you don’t deserve it at times.  Let go of the need to compare yourself to others – your story is your own.
  • Common humanity vs. isolation. Be connected with others and recognize that we are all in this together.  Life’s stressors are so much more to bear when we try to carry them alone.
  • Mindfulness vs. over-identification. Pay attention to your thoughts and feelings.  Notice that you are able to notice those experiences.  You can be an observer of your own mind, thus separating you from the stress and chaos around you.

Need Help? Let’s Talk!

If you are suffering during this uncertain time, we are here to help.  Here at Let’s Talk Psychological Wellness, we have therapy services and specialties available for you and your loved ones.

Contact us today!  We can support you in coping with stress and learning new ways to navigate it.