Know Your Red Flags While Managing COVID-Related Stress

Isn’t it incredible to think that just a few months ago we’d never heard the term COVID-19? While coronaviruses have long existed, this coronavirus did not. That didn’t stop it from transforming our entire world though. Life has now changed beyond recognition, professionally and personally.

Some people have been enduring lockdown all on their own, unable to see their loved ones at all, while others have been working from home surrounded by their family. Regardless of your particular lockdown situation, you have likely gone to extra effort to connect with the people you can’t see.

You may have stocked up on dry goods, hoping to ride it out without leaving the house. Perhaps you felt comfortable taking regular walks while masked. We have all had our own paths to walk during COVID-19. Some people will have a more challenging time than others.  

Know Your Red Flags

As well as knowing the red flags of cognitive and emotional overwhelm, you should get to know your individual red flags. Think about past stress you have experienced, whether it’s been work or relationship related. What type of event or situation triggers a feeling of overwhelm and how can you manage that more efficiently? By getting to know yourself better, you will better know your red flags and how to manage the load.

Know Your Brain

You know how you react when you’re in love. You know how your brain responds to stress. You recognize how your brain acts when you’re anxious, fearful, excited, etc. Knowing your brain can help you manage your cognitive and emotional load. Your brain on stress will cloud your judgment. The positive chemicals that come with falling in love are as powerful as the stress chemicals that come with stress.

You should know yourself well enough to recognize when even the slightest stress creeps in. Know the physical symptoms you experience when stressed out: do your palms grow sweaty, is there an eye twitch, do you itch, do you get a headache, are you experiencing acne breakouts, or are your bowels off-kilter? We all have our own signs of stress, but knowing what they are will help you cope.

Choose Abundance over Scarcity

What type of mindset do you have? Do you believe there is enough for everyone or that you have to grab what you can to protect yourself? If you’re the former, you likely bought what you need to stock up for COVID-19 lockdown. If you are the latter, then you likely have enough toilet paper and bottled water to carry you midway through 2021.

This might not sound like much, but with a scarcity mindset comes the idea that things will never be okay. Nothing will get better. That’s not going to help you cope with a heavy emotional and cognitive load.

Listen to Your Body

One of the most effective ways to manage distress is to identify the physical and emotional symptoms, as well as the thoughts you tend to experience before spiraling into overwhelm. If you are confused by whether you’re coping with your load, then you have to listen to your body because it holds the clues to your truth.

A body scan or check is a great daily tool to check in with yourself and get ahead of any red flags. It’s easy. Simply sit quietly for a few moments, practice deep breathing, center yourself, and scan each area of your body. You can also ask specific questions about what you’re dealing with to determine whether your body responds. Do you feel fearful? Are you tense or tight?

Honesty is more important than bravery here, because you have to ensure you are properly taking care of yourself in order to be well equipped to take care of everything else. While sacrifice and willpower are exceptionally valuable traits worth cultivating (and something often brought up here!), they’ll do you no good if you sacrifice too much or unnecessarily due to not having a clear mind or adequately maintained relationships or health.

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