You may notice holiday traditions and expectations triggering stress for you this month. You are not alone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 5 individuals will face a mental challenge during the average year — ranging from anxiety and depression to bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia. However, this has not been an average year due to COVID-19. CDC estimates for 2020 increase the ratio to 1 in 2 people in America experiencing some form of mental distress.
Symptoms of Distress
After dealing with all the uncertainties of the Covid pandemic for months, now you’re facing shorter days and more expectations to perform as the holidays draw near. The combination is enough to make anyone feel stressed out. People dealing with anxiety, stress and depression often experience physical changes, as well as changes in thought, mood, and behavior.
- Stomachaches or diarrhea
- Changes in appetite and eating habits
- Headaches or other pains
- Exaggerated startle response
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty concentrating
- Increased worry
- Anxiety and fear
- Overwhelming sadness
- Numbness, neither joyful or sadness
- Drop in activity levels due to fatigue
- Frequent crying
- Angry outbursts
- Self-isolation and avoiding others
- Risk-taking behaviors, increased use of drugs/alcohol
Self-care and Stress Management
To be your best in the workplace and at home, it’s important to take care of yourself first and to allow others to care for you, too. Asking for help is a wise, strong step in times of need.
Here are other steps to take that will reduce the impact stress can have in your life.
- Be physically active several times a week; walk, run, bike, swim, dance, etc.
- Sleep 7 hours a night. Eat a healthy diet and stay hydrated.
- Avoid increasing use of alcohol and other drugs.
- Keep in contact with supportive family and friends.
- Laugh every day at something; cartoons, satire, comedians, TV shows, movies, etc.
- Journal or sketch to express your thoughts and dwell on what makes you grateful.
- Meditate or pray to transcend your current circumstances.
- Use relaxation exercises, like this breathing technique, to shed anxiety.