COVID-19: How You Can Manage the Stress and Anxiety
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic came upon us in March and changed our daily lives in ways we couldn’t begin to imagine or be prepared for. We all see and hear every day the physical effects of the virus, the toll it can take on our physical health, and what precautions we should take to protect ourselves. But what about our mental health? The coronavirus also affects our emotional health, be it in the form of stress or anxiety. Many of us are experiencing lasting anxiety for the first time and are having to learn to better manage our stress and anxiety levels.
COVID-19 is a new disease that we know little about at this time. A constant influx of information, often contradictory, about what we should and should not do understandably creates fear and uncertainty for both adults and children. Social distancing is recommended as a number one safety precaution but can be very isolating and lonely for some individuals. Not knowing what tomorrow may bring and a feeling of having no control over our lives is stressful.
Self-care, a strong support system, and acceptance that we may need some help are of paramount importance during these difficult times.
What is the difference between stress and anxiety?
Stress is an immediate emotional response to a particular situation or a combination of external factors. Anxiety is more of a constant, excessive state of worry that occurs with or without an immediate stressful situation. Both stress and anxiety are normal emotions to experience and not something to be embarrassed about.
Stress and anxiety share similar emotional and physical symptoms.
- Muscle Pain
- Digestive Issues
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Difficulty Concentrating
- Weight Loss or Weight Gain
Impacts of Stress and Anxiety on Our Overall Physical Health
Our bodies are amazing creations and are built to handle small amounts of stress. But what happens when we are experiencing stress and anxiety in constant doses? The toll of stress and anxiety on our physical health can range from mild to severe. Not managing our stress can negatively impact our immune systems and cardiovascular health such as heart disease and stroke. Stress and anxiety can cause skin ailments to erupt, affect a woman’s menstrual cycle, cause sexual dysfunction, and even lead to gastrointestinal problems such as GERD and ulcerative colitis.
Self-care routines you can start today to alleviate stress and anxiety.
1. Be aware of your stress and anxiety behaviors.
Learn to recognize how you feel and how that drives your actions. If you find yourself overindulging in food or alcohol, not sleeping through the night, feeling tired, achy, or unreasonably irritable take the time to acknowledge what is driving the behavior. Then you will be able to take steps to address it.
2. Engage in activities designed to promote relaxation.
Explore breathing exercises, muscle relaxation techniques, and meditation programs. There are many systems and even free apps available to help you practice lowering your heart rate, relaxing your body, and calming your mind. Schedule a few minutes each day to help your body find release from stress and anxiety.
3. Make daily exercise part of your routine.
Physical exercise lowers the body’s stress hormones and cortisol while producing endorphins which will boost your mood and promote better sleep. As an added bonus physical exercise will help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol. Healthy bodies manage stress better. Just adding a 30-minute walk into your daily activities will provide massive benefits.
4. Reach out to friends and family.
When we don’t feel well, we may have a tendency to withdraw and spend time alone. If you find yourself doing so make an effort to connect and don’t be afraid to ask for practical help or emotional support from those around you. Just the act of doing so can reduce your levels of stress and anxiety.
5. Set a goal or start a project.
Create a distraction for yourself that you can focus on when feeling stressed. A sense of accomplishment naturally boosts mood and generates feelings of happiness.
6. Seek help from a healthcare professional.
If you feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety and are experiencing harmful thoughts. Don’t be ashamed and don’t hesitate to reach out to your healthcare provider and inform them you need help. We always want what is best for our patients and will provide the care you need or help you find a better solution.
Stress is always going to be part of our lives. Our current times are putting us all to the test. Knowing what stresses you, causes you anxiety, and having the tools to combat the emotional and physical effects can make all the difference in whether we experience symptoms for a few moments or days, or become overwhelmed for the long-term.
The usual treatment for anxiety is such medications as Xanax and Zoloft. While they may alleviate symptoms of anxiety, they both often come with side effects such as dizziness, tiredness, sleep disturbance, sexual dysfunction, and suicidal thoughts to name a few. However, a non-invasive drug-free alternative, Braincore Therapy is available in our office.
Braincore Therapy (Neurofeedback) is a computerized system that can measure irregular brain wave patterns in a patient with anxiety. Thru a series of gentle positive feedback training, we can alleviate symptoms associated with anxiety. This is accomplished while relaxing and watching videos, movies, and television shows. A far better alternative to prescription drugs!
At McKenna Family Chiropractic we can certainly help alleviate the aches and pains and help relax muscle tightness caused by stress and anxiety. We can work with you to create a healthy nutrition and exercise plan to promote a stronger immune system, greater physical fitness, and increased energy levels. Please know we are also here for you if you feel your stress and anxiety is out of control and are feeling overwhelmed. Our door is always open, and we can help.
Interested in Finding Out if Brain Core Therapy Can Help Alleviate Your Anxiety?
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Will to learn more about how the therapy works and if it is right for you.