By Becca Mathis, BS, CHES – Adolescent Health Coordinator
Many of us know the meaning behind the “Pot of Gold”- this idea that there is some magical, eternal happiness waiting for us at the end of the rainbow… if we could just find it!
Though the “Pot of Gold” might be something from a fairytale, we can learn our own strategies to support our mental wellness. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Stress can cause emotional and physical responses:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
Stress is a natural response to our environments. However, frequent stress without healthy coping strategies can take a serious toll on our health.
Here are some examples of Healthy Coping Skills provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
- Take care of your body- listen to your body when it is telling you that you are fatigued and need rest.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use.
- 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.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
If you start to feel like the stress you are experiencing is unmanageable, it may be time to ask for help. Check in with yourself by asking these questions when you start to feel overwhelmed by stress:
1) Is my stress getting in the way of my ability to do every day things, like eat, sleep, and take care of myself?
2) Is my stress getting in the way of my job, or other responsibilities?
3) Is my stress affecting my relationships, like with friends, family, or partners?
If you answer yes to any of the above check-in questions, it’s likely time to reach out for help. When stress starts affecting our ability to manage everyday tasks, responsibilities, and relationships, this is a sign that we need more support. Consider reaching out to a local Behavioral Health provider or your counselor or therapist for more support.
If you are feeling hopeless or alone, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has professionals ready to take your call (or online chat!), 24/7. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals. If you are looking for local support, call the UnityPlace Access Center at 1 (888) 311-0321. Always call 911 in a crisis situation.