The coronavirus pandemic has created higher-than-average stress levels in our daily lives, as our routines have significantly shifted to accommodate the need for self-quarantine and social distancing. Every day, you’re doing your part to keep yourself and your loved ones safe from the spread of illness, but the long-term anxiety and worry associated with COVID-19 can wreak havoc on your physical and mental well-being. Here are some actionable tips for managing chronic stress in these trying times.
Understand Your Body’s Stress Response
Every day, you face multiple demands on your time and energy – even more so, now that coronavirus has upended your typical routine. Even a mundane task such as picking up a prescription or going to the grocery store can cause your anxiety levels to spike. When you encounter these perceived threats, a region of your brain called the hypothalamus sets off your body’s alarm system. Two hormones called adrenaline and cortisol surge, increasing your heart rate, breathing and blood pressure while suppressing non-essential functions.
This instinctive reaction to acute stress is your fight-or-flight response. After the danger is no longer present, it can take up to an hour for your hormones to return to normal and your body to go back to its baseline level. However, in an environment where you can’t escape stress and you feel constantly under attack, your fight-or-flight reaction remains active.
Humans and other animals evolved the fight-or-flight response as a survival mechanism. However, your body can also overreact in situations that aren’t life-threatening. Chronic coronavirus stress and the resulting overexposure to cortisol and adrenaline can disrupt almost all your body’s processes and increase your risk of health problems such as:
- Digestive issues
- Heart disease
- Disrupted sleep patterns
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
Learning to Cope With Chronic Stress
To preserve your physical and mental health, it’s essential to develop coping mechanisms that help you keep your stress at manageable levels, even when coronavirus has made you feel a loss of control. Stressful events are a fact of life, but you can take positive steps to minimize their impact on your body, mind and spirit.
Stress-management strategies you can try include the following.
- Exercise regularly and eat a balanced diet. Many foods naturally help reduce stress while tasting great and nourishing your body.
- Take time for relaxing self-care activities such as reading, gardening, taking a warm bath or writing in a journal.
- Seek companionship through online support groups and other helpful resources for reducing anxiety.
- Practice yoga, meditation or relaxing breathing exercises that can allow you to calm your mind.
Experience Healing at Vista Taos
At Vista Taos Renewal Center, we are still welcoming new clients during the coronavirus pandemic. We’ve taken a series of precautions to ensure we remain a safe environment for people who need life-saving addiction treatment. Protect your long-term health and happiness by declaring freedom from drugs and alcohol. Contact us for your free consultation.