Tomorrow is International Stress Awareness Day, and if ever the world needed some stress reduction, it’s now.
The pandemic is an ongoing global concern, especially with winter just around the corner. With the U.S. nearing eight months of virus-related closures, all of us are understandably experiencing heightened levels of anxiety and depression.
In addition, the holidays are just around the corner, and this year, the usual holiday stress is magnified by the fear of becoming ill, the loss of treasured family traditions and the isolation that seems to permeate much of our lives. And for many, this holiday will mark the first time they will be without a loved one who passed from the virus.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19 stress can cause the worsening of mental health conditions, and that’s definitely been born out by our experience at North Shore Child & Family Guidance Center.
“For kids who already experienced anxiety, depression and other mental health challenges, the pandemic has definitely increased their symptoms,” says Regina Barros-Rivera, Associate Executive Director of the Guidance Center. “They’re worried about the health of their parents and loved ones, and many families are struggling financially because of job losses. Remote schooling can be stressful, too.”
The pandemic can also result in changes in sleep and eating patterns; trouble concentrating; and increased use of alcohol and drugs.
Now is as good a time as any to learn some techniques to help both you and your family manage the many stressors in your life. Although the following are good steps to take all year long, they’re especially important now, and apply to kids and adults alike.
- Eat healthy foods
- Avoid drugs and alcohol
- Exercise regularly
- Get outside in the fresh air as much as possible
- Establish a routine for getting 8 hours of sleep each night (or more for children and teens)
- Connect with family and friends, even if you can’t see them in person
- Schedule time to have fun and engage in activities you enjoy
- Limit your exposure to news
- Develop a practice of meditation and deep breathing (see “Breathe Deep”)
Also, know that help is available. At the Guidance Center, we are providing remote telehealth services or, when needed, in-person therapy. Call us at (516) 626-1971, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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