Written by: Debra Fitzgerald, LPC-MHSP, Therapist
Mental Health Resources

How would you rate your stress level during these past 9 months?  Have you been experiencing more anxiety?  Chances are you have.  It is important to focus on good self-care to help manage this anxiety.  Anxiety is the body’s reaction to stress and reactions may include apprehension, fear, restlessness, sleep or appetite disturbances.  Let’s talk about ways to manage this stress.

It is important to get enough rest/sleep, while being mindful of sleeping too much! Do you use your phone while in bed?  Research has shown that the light emitted by cell phones can restrict the production of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep.  Avoid the temptation to take that phone to bed, or pick it up during the night.

If you find news or social media are contributing to your anxiety, perhaps limit time spent with these.  Consider taking a walk outdoors, reading a book, listening to a podcast, meditation, yoga.  Journaling is a way to process anxiety/feelings.  There are many journaling apps available, or you might think about getting a nice journal/pen instead.  Learn to practice asking yourself if a situation is something I can control or not?

Healthy choices in eating are important to help manage stress.  Eating breakfast kick-starts the metabolism.  Try eating intuitively, with moderation.  Learn to ask yourself if you are truly hungry, or using food to manage emotions.

Maybe take some time to clean out those “junk drawers” that we all have, or clean out closets!

Challenge those automatic thoughts (black/white thinking, catastrophizing, overgeneralizations).  Ask yourself “is this thought based on emotion or on fact?” or “where is the evidence this is true/accurate?”.  Look out for the “woulda, shoulda, couda” thoughts.  None of us have the power or ability to return to the past to make changes.  Also, beware of the “what if’s” of the future.  They tend to cause increased anxiety.

It is ok to set the phone on do not disturb when you need time to recharge.  It is also ok to tell others that at this time you need a break from negative news/negative focus on things, and that it is important for you to focus on more positives at this time.

Be careful of overuse of food, alcohol tobacco or other substances during these times in order to deal with anxiety/emotions.  Finally, know that it is ok to ask for help!  When things seem overwhelming, don’t hesitate to reach out.  There are resources available to help you manage during these challenging times.