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For many of us, our stress levels are at an all-time high and it seems like we can’t catch a break living among COVID-19. As soon as things seem to be tapering down and businesses reopening, a rise in the number of cases surface, leaving many of us wondering when all of this will end or if this is going to be our new normal. It can all feel overwhelming, and while it’s likely impacting our mental health, it’s also taking a toll on our bodies. To the nervous system, there is no difference between emotional and physical stress, and the only thing our body puts above balance is survival. We are literally in a fluctuating state of fight or flight, and these high intense stressors cause our bodies to experience multiple microtraumas as we attempt to cope with it all.

Signs You Are NOT OK

You may not consciously realize when you are in the danger zone because the pressure builds like a slow pressure cooker. But there are warning signs to look out for. If you answer yes to any of these questions, it's a good indication you are not coping as well as you might think.

Does the thought of interacting with others feel taxing or overwhelming?

If you feel a sense of wanting to be alone or like it’s too much work to connect with others, pay attention. You may say to yourself, “I don’t want to have this conversation because I just don’t feel like it.” When we find ourselves beginning to revert from the thought of interacting with people or it becomes a burden or a drudgery, there may be an imbalance. If you begin to isolate it’s easy to slip into depression.

Do you feel as if social distancing, mask wearing and lockdowns must end now because you can’t it take anymore? (i)

If you’ve said to yourself, “enough is enough, this is too much,” and anything other than the restrictions ending right now is unacceptable, then it’s time to check in. Ask yourself why it has to stop. What is it that you have to do that supersedes the relevancy of what’s happening right now? You are likely responding out of stress.

Are you making decisions that you know are not in your best interest?

If you find yourself making decisions you wouldn’t typically make under normal circumstances, that’s a sign. The body will always find a way to ease the stress in an attempt to find balance again, and this can lead people to turn to food, shopping, drugs or alcohol. The desire to relieve your stress can push you towards unhealthy coping mechanisms to find some sense of feeling good. For example, American Addiction Centers is seeing a rise in the number of people turning to substances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The treatment provider has also noticed a 10% increase in the number of people reaching out for help during this time and a spike in admissions at some of its treatment facilities.

If you find you’re exhibiting signs that you are not coping well or a self-assessment survey reveals some concerns about your stress level, you should take action. Here are some tips for managing stress with ease: