The COVID-19 pandemic, it is pretty safe to say, has most of us feeling a little on edge right now. Those in the healthcare industry are being taxed especially hard, from trying to adjust to increased telehealth visits to caring for emergency patients. However, it is important to take the time to understand the need for self-care by learning to understand stress and anxiety as well as how to properly manage it and cope effectively. To assist our readers in finding healthy ways to process their feelings during the COVID-19 crisis, this blog will offer tips on dealing with stress and anxiety.
Understanding Stress & Anxiety
While related, stress and anxiety are not the same thing. Stress is your body’s way of responding to the demands of your immediate environment (meaning things that are actually happening in the present moment), while anxiety is a response to potential stressors (worrying about what could happen).
In some cases, stress can actually be a good thing, as it is a part of your brain’s protective mechanism—often called the “fight or flight response.” When activated, our bodies begin warning us of potential danger by stimulating our parasympathetic and endocrine systems. As a result, during moments of extreme stress, we feel the need to either confront (fight) or avoid (flight) the cause of the stress.
Anxiety occurs when we perceive a potential problem or threat that is not yet immediate. Unlike stress, it is more of a fear response. Anxiety can also be useful, as it can help us to preemptively avoid problems or threats before they can affect us. However, as with stress, anxiety persists until we find a way to clearly avoid the cause or potential threat. If there is no clear way to do this, it can become overwhelming.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress and anxiety can be caused or aggravated by the following issues:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Negative Effects of Stress & Anxiety
While brief periods of stress or anxiety are normal and can even be beneficial, they can have negative consequences in the long term. If not properly managed, both stress and anxiety can lead to a number of health problems:
- Digestive problems
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration issues
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease and stroke
Managing Stress & Anxiety
To avoid the negative physical effects of stress and anxiety, you need to be proactive. In order to manage and cope with stress and anxiety during this pandemic, the CDC is offering the following recommendations:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
This is a stressful time for many people, especially for healthcare providers, and things may continue to be tense for a while. Therefore, it is important for those in the healthcare industry to make time to properly care for themselves to avoid becoming overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Nextech will continue to be here to serve our clients needs as best we can. Stay tuned to this blog for more tips and updates.
For our printable infographic on managing stress and anxiety, click here!
Here are some useful resource links to credited sources that can provide additional information to help you cope during this time of need.
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