For over two years we have been living in a pandemic and with the impacts of Covid on our daily lives. Each and every one of us has been impacted by Covid in so many ways, whether that be having caught the virus, restrictions from seeing friends and family, cancelled travel plans, missed events and in the most sad of situations, the loss of a loved one. We have all shown extraordinary strength and resilience to get through these tough times. In particular, at Co.As.It., we have worked tirelessly to continue providing important and essential services, through lockdowns, office closures and while supporting the health and well-being of our community and staff. And while we have all learnt how to live with Covid, what we might be struggling with now is processing the stress from the past two years.
What is Chronic Stress?
Chronic stress is defined as; “a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed for a long period of time,” (Yale Medicine). Essentially, chronic stress is a response to an ongoing challenging situation that is weighing us down and we can’t easily get out of. Some symptoms of chronic stress might include feeling low in energy, struggling to sleep, brain fog and experiencing aches like headaches and stomach pains.
While we all face stressful situations in life, such as starting a new job, having a child or moving house, these stressful situations eventually pass and we find ways to cope and problem-solve. However, when we are facing a stressful situation that is continuing for a long time, without a clear end date, we might start to experience chronic stress, and some long-term impacts on our physical and emotional health.
As we continue to live with Covid, we need good strategies to manage the experience of chronic stress in our lives. Here are some strategies to help you with Chronic Stress from us at Co.As.It.
Tip 1: Find Helpful Ways To Reduce Stress
When we are under stress, our brains produces a chemical called cortisol, known as the ‘stress hormone.’ While cortisol can help us in the short-term with focus and motivation, in the long-term it contributes to the negative symptoms in chronic stress. Fortunately, we can do many things to reduce the build-up of cortisol in our brains and bodies. A great way to lower cortisol levels is through movement, which is why exercise and dancing often make us feel good! Cortisol also decreases when we find stillness and relaxation, for example by deep breathing, listening to music and resting.
Tip 2: Use Stress Management Skills
When we are under chronic stress, our brains are usually operating in overdrive. We might experience racing thoughts or feel overwhelmed. A great stress management skill is to just stop! When we allow ourselves to pause and take a deep breath we can refocus our attention on the present moment. This helps us feel more in control and able to cope with a situation. It sounds simple, but often we forget just to stop, breathe and think.
Tip 3: Ask For Support
Finally, if you are struggling with chronic stress, due to Covid or other challenging situations in life, you are not alone. It can be really helpful to share your stress with someone else, having the support of a listening ear or a fresh perspective on your situation. If you would like support with chronic stress, then the Co.As.It. Mental Health team can help too, or reach out to a friend or your GP.
We hope that these tips help support you if you are struggling with chronic stress during these challenging Covid times!