5 ways to cope with prolonged stress and anxiety
Stress is a part of life. But many are are dealing with prolonged stress and anxiety. Therapist Dede Norungolo, said that anxiety can look different for everyone, but there are common signs.
Signs of anxiety include:
- Irritability, commonly known as low-frustration tolerance
- Physiological symptoms, such as increased heart rate or high blood pressure
- Personality changes – for instance, someone who is typically more outgoing may be quiet or withdrawn
Norungolo offered five ways to cope with anxiety caused by prolonged stress.
- Limit social media. “While it is important to stay informed of issues that matter to you, there are a few steps you can take to help lessen your stress and anxiety,” said Norungolo. “Set physical time limits for yourself, mute your telephone, and block those on social media who are posting messages you find stressful or triggering. You can unfollow people for a period of time and they won’t know it, even if they’re close friends and family.”
Norungolo also recommended engaging an accountability buddy. “This could be a family member, friend or colleague you trust to help you take a technology timeout. Give them permission to tap you on the back of your elbow when they see you going for your phone. Be self-aware and do what helps you to be calm.”
- Volunteer for a cause you care about. There are so many organizations in our community that need help. Our communities need us to be well so that we can take care of each other. Even in a virtual world, there are ways to help.
- Practice self-care. This can include physical activity such as walking, prayer, letter writing, journaling and meditation.
- Make a plan for how to deal with difficult discussions. “The people we care about may have different ideologies and opinions, which can be a source of tension,” said Norungolo. “So, make a plan – have an idea or understanding of how you’re going to approach conversations. Prohibit political discussion. Focus on what brings us together. Look for positivity, love and light. Set the negative stuff down.”
If conversations do get heated and the tension gets to you, Norungolo recommended practicing self-care later with a hot bath, candles and fragrances. “You will know what works for you.”
- Reach out if you need help. “We’re all on our personal wellness journeys, but we don’t have to do it alone,” said Norungolo. “If you are feeling depressed or anxious, reach out for help. Use the suicide hotline or get to the nearest emergency room if the anxiety becomes so high that you feel like there is no reason to live.”
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