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Dealing With Stress During Difficult Times

Just like physical health, everyone has mental health. Whether you are mentally healthy or you’re struggling, it’s important to check in with yourself regularly to make sure you are getting the care you need.

At this time we are all facing a new reality due to the coronavirus, and likely a change to our daily routines. People may find they are struggling with this adjustment, and might be feeling anxious, depressed or stressed. Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, a psychiatrist at Keystone Behavioral Health, has some tips for taking charge of your mental health and taking care of yourself during times of high stress.

Pay Attention To Your Mental Health

It is very important to consciously pay attention to our mental health, especially during times of high stress such as the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Stress affects our physical health, as well as our mental health. Positive emotions boost our immune response, and stress makes our immunity weaker. It is necessary to take a break from stress and cope with it in healthy ways.

Stress Affects Your Body

Severe ongoing stress negatively affects your body. Stress can affect sleep, appetite, mood and energy levels. Stress increases the risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, cancer and many other diseases. Studies suggest that stress increases a hormone in your body called cortisol. High cortisol levels in the body disrupt normal cellular activities and many harmful chemicals are produced which damage the body’s cells. This damage sets the stage for chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes.

Healthy Ways To Cope

It’s important that you learn to take good care of yourself. Eat healthy, well-balanced meals, stay physically active, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs. Regularly practicing relaxation and deep breathing can help with staying calm. Choose an activity that works for you and that you are likely to continue doing. Start slowly and gradually and work toward making it a regular practice.

Stress In Children

Children experience stress too and they often show it through irritability, lack of patience and poor frustration tolerance. For children, it is very important to have a regular routine and structure throughout the day; otherwise lack of structure can trigger boredom, depression and anxiety.

Seeking Professional Help

I strongly recommend you seek professional help if stress is affecting your ability to function. As human beings, we have personal and occupational responsibilities. If you are struggling to keep up with fulfilling these roles, it is time to seek professional help. You can call your medical doctor and ask for his or her advice or you can contact behavioral health resources in your area.  Keystone Health offers a 24/7 crisis line for those who are experiencing a mental health, drug or alcohol crisis and can be reached at (717) 264-2555.

Change is usually difficult for everyone. If you don’t accept your current reality, it can trigger conflict, irritability and anger. The key is to accept it instead of creating suffering by being in denial. We can all work together to get through this time.  We need to understand that we can do our part and prevent exposure by following the recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which can be found at www.cdc.gov.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.