Stress getting the best of you?
The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not only created a lot of chaos in our social lives but in our professional lives, too. There is a sense that everything is up in the air. According to OSF HealthCare Behavioral Health Manager Luke Raymond, it’s a point in time that calls for our resilience.
“Many people have been laid off or furloughed. Others are unsure when they will start receiving financial support. Experience has shown that resilience is the best way to deal with adversity,” Raymond said. “Those who practice resilience adapt well to adversity and change, while those who don’t struggle to cope with life’s challenges.”
Determination brings healthy payoffs
Research indicates that resilient people have better mental health through challenges such as physical illnesses or trauma. Experts aren’t entirely sure why this is, but believe it is due to resilient people taking more decisive actions to manage their adversity.
“While being determined, strong and persistent doesn’t remove challenges from your life, it does improve your ability to handle those challenges,” Raymond said. “Resilient people tend to be happier because they forge on, refusing to let circumstances bring them down.”
The challenges of adversity
Common reactions to financial or other significant challenges may include:
- Depression – feeling sad, frustrated and helpless
- Feeling disconnected – disbelief, shock and numbness
- Foggy brain – difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Physical ailments – headaches, back pains, trouble sleeping and stomach problems
- Use of distractors – unhealthy eating, smoking or use of alcohol or drugs
Healthy ways to cope with stress
“After a traumatic event like losing your financial security, you may have strong and lingering reactions. This can affect you both physically and emotionally,” Raymond said. “During stressful times, getting the right care and support can help reduce emotional and physical symptoms. You need to search out healthy ways to cope.”
- Take care of yourself.
- Connect and network. Connecting with a parent, friend, counselor, colleague, doctor or pastor can help you stay grounded and possibly open the door for new employment.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Trying to mask the symptoms may seem to help, but substance abuse can create additional problems and add additional stress to what you are already feeling. Plus, alcohol can act as a depressant.
- Take a step back. Obsessing on social media and news coverage can be stressful. Try taking a break from your electronics. A few hours away from your phone and the television can do wonders.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you continue to struggle or contemplate suicide, talk to a psychologist, social worker or professional counselor.
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911 or the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administrative Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. Another option: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Learn how to bounce back
Raymond reminds us that while everyone is different, there are no genetic factors or natural traits stopping us from becoming more resilient. He recommends:
- Be kind to yourself. Because we tend to be our worst critic, sometimes we can be too hard on ourselves. Instead of judging, blaming or beating yourself up, treat yourself with kindness.
- Focus on taking care of yourself. The adage that you can’t take care of others if you can’t take care of yourself applies here. Follow proper stress management techniques, get proper rest and exercise to boost your ability to cope and raise your energy levels.
- Recall your victories. During a tough time, remember a time when you succeeded. Collect several of these victories in your mind and confidently know that you have succeeded before, and you’ll succeed again.
- See obstacles as opportunities. Each challenge represents a chance for us to shine. Setbacks and challenges can make us better people, leading to better relationships, more self-esteem, and a greater appreciation for what we have. Face your challenges and seek out your unseen benefits.
- Seek help and support. Resilience doesn’t mean forging ahead alone – just the opposite. Being resilient means using all of your resources to help you overcome adversity. Diligently search out every opportunity to overcome your challenges.
- Take baby steps. You might not be able to run out and start a new job. But taking even one small step toward a solution can help make it happen – review your resume, prep for interviews, etc.