The past few months have been extremely challenging for many people and families. Not having regular interactions with friends or family could be taking a toll on your mental health. During this time, some people may find themselves experiencing higher levels of stress. This may be due to financial uncertainty, work/life imbalance, and/or 24/7 with the children/spouse. It’s hard not having a physical community to help you out.
Most of us are getting to the point (if we weren’t there already) where it’s becoming too much to handle. Stress just keeps building and it could be affecting your health. I want to give you some tips on how to deal with stress, especially during this unprecedented time in our history.
How Stress Affects Your Health
Stress is a normal part of life. However, the way we deal with stress is the key to maintaining a healthy mindset and a healthy body. When we bottle up stress day after day, it can lead to health issues, including tight muscles, headaches, and tense neck and shoulders. Not only that, but chronic stress can lead to high cortisol levels throughout the body, wreaking havoc on the body’s processes and functions.
High cortisol levels can cause:
- Digestion Issues
- Unbalanced Gut Microbiome
- Inflammation (Leading To A Whole Other Array Of Issues)
- Hair Loss
- Weight Gain
- Reduced Immune Function
This time can be extremely hard because of multiple factors. However, we can all take steps in a positive direction by focusing on what we can change and control. We can teach our body how to respond to stress so our health won’t be as highly affected by every outside factor.
Resources to Help Reduce Stress Levels
The good news is that there are multiple ways you can reduce your stress levels. While some of these stress-relieving methods can be used during any time of life, some incredible resources have been created to help out individuals, specifically to deal with stress around this pandemic. With the use of technology, people of all ages can access information and help from others across the globe. If you want to manage your stress levels better, try adopting several of these ideas and practices.
Many of us have a smartphone of some sort that gives us the opportunity to have access to great Apps right at the touch of a button. Here are some useful apps that may help you deal with stress when you are having a rough day or rough moment.
This is a highly used and rated app that includes guided mindfulness and meditation exercises. It also has options to help you fall asleep at night. If you deal with anxiety, this is a great tool for quickly bringing your mind back into the present moment, reducing those worried thoughts.
This app offers meditation sessions to help deal with stress, anxiety, and panic, as well as quick sessions to teach you skills on mindfulness.
I’ve included this here because, unlike a guided session, having the Zoom or Skype App allows you to connect with friends and family at any time over video chat. It’s hard to be away from loved ones and we are all getting to the point where we miss our normal routine. Sometimes a quick face-to-face video call can help enhance your mood, put a smile on your face, and turn your mood around. Even better, you can set up to have multiple friends or family members video chat at the same time. This allows you to feel socially connected to your group of loved ones, reducing the feeling of loneliness and isolation. Don’t underestimate the power of a quick 15-minute call. It can go a long way in trying to stay sane during this time!
Learn how diaphragmatic breathing can help with anxiety and stress. Unlike the Calm and Headspace App, this one is designed specifically to lead you through breathing techniques that physically calm your body. Diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to be a successful way to reduce cortisol levels.
If you have any extra time now that you’re stuck at home, order one of these books and take up some reading. Educating yourself on stress-management methods can help you in the present time as well as the long-term. You can have the tools and knowledge needed to get into a healthy mindset.
- 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works by Dan Harris
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by don Miguel Ruiz
- Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky
Websites for Meditation
There are so many great resources online for anyone who wants to really educate themselves on the power of meditation. There’s no better time than now to learn practical ways to help your mental health.
The Center for Mindfulness, The Sanford Institute for Empathy and Compassion, and Compassion Institute
These two institutes have created a resource to help those struggling during the COVID pandemic. They provide daily streaming and recordings of mindfulness and compassion sessions to support people all over the country.
This website offers daily practices, guided meditations, online courses, and an online community of educators. They also have some great blogs and resources specifically geared towards being in quarantine.
This goes along with the recommended book above. This site includes a podcast, membership, and some of the best meditation teachers out there.
This website is an online-based community that includes Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) evidence-based programs that offer intensive mindfulness training to help people with stress.
If you are struggling to handle stress effectively, and it’s affecting your mental health, please reach out to a Functional Medicine provider. Dr. Lisa Ballehr, Functional Medicine Practitioner in Mesa, AZ offers not only in-person visits but also telemedicine services to people around the nation. She can help create a personalized approach that is realistic and unique to your situation. Please get in contact with her here or take her FREE Online Health Assessment to get started.