Q&A: Managing Stress in Year 2 of the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. After a year that saw social distancing become the norm, our chances of feeling isolated and lonely can increase, which in turn can increase stress and anxiety. Dr. John Wiecha, Medical Director at Tufts Health Plan, answers some questions about ways to handle stress.
Q: Is it normal to still feel stress about the pandemic—even with a vaccine?
A: It is natural to feel stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Even as vaccinations increase, there is still concern and worry about what the future holds in relation to the virus. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help you be more resilient when faced with uncertainty.
Q: What are some examples of healthy ways to manage stress?
A: Taking care of yourself—your mind and your body—makes a big difference. Eating well-balanced meals, getting physical activity and going outdoors every day, and getting plenty of sleep are some of the most important ways to manage stress. Doing an activity you enjoy each day for 30 minutes can also make a big difference.
Q: What about ways to mentally manage stress?
A: Your mind benefits from activity and rest—same as your body. Make time to unwind in a way that helps you stay connected to the moment. For example, slowing down to appreciate the tastes of a meal can help you feel connected to the moment. Meditation is a great way to train your mind to stay present. Make an effort to connect with others and talk about your concerns to relieve stress and cope with any worries. Keep alcohol use to a minimum. Also, if you are a big consumer of information from electronic sources, you might feel calmer by cutting back. Try occasionally unplugging from the internet and TV.
If at any point you feel your stress level is too much to handle, make sure to reach out to your primary care physician.
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