With stressors piling up in 2020 and our mental health on the defensive, here are tips to remain calm and centered
You, no doubt, have heard the phrase, “The weight of the world is resting on my shoulders.” Not in recent memory has that phrase been more appropriate than right now. Whether it’s the coronavirus pandemic, racism and civil unrest, the fluctuating economy, wildfires and smoke across California -- we can’t seem to catch a break in 2020. It likely has you asking, “just how much stress can the human body take?”
“Even the most resilient among us are feeling maxed out after being bombarded by so many stressors,” says David Bond, LCSW, director of behavioral health for Blue Shield of California’s Promise Health Plan. “Many people may not even realize the full impacts that these issues have upon our health and wellbeing.”
According to the American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” poll, released in June of this year, more than eight in 10 Americans (83 percent) say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress. The previous high was 69 percent, reported in 2018. The poll also found that 70 percent of adults are stressed about the economy, up from 46 percent in 2019. The last time this many adults were stressed about the economy was in 2008 during the great recession.
When is it time to seek help?
Depression, anxiety, and stress can play out in ways we don’t recognize or even consider, says Bond. He shares key signs and symptoms that indicate that you or a loved one may need mental-health support from a professional:
- Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness
- Loss of interest in daily activities
- Appetite or weight changes
- Sleep changes – either insomnia or oversleeping.
- Unexplained anger or irritability
- Loss of energy
- Reckless behavior
- Trouble concentrating or focusing on tasks
- Unexplained aches and pains
If any of these become so severe that they are disrupting your daily functioning, consider seeking help from a professional.
Tips for coping and reducing stress
The good news, says Bond, is that there are things you can do to lessen your depression and stress level. He suggests trying as many of the following tips as possible:
- Find time to detach yourself from electronic devices – especially in the lead up to bedtime.
- Make it a point to get outside (when the smoke isn’t so bad) and take a walk or do some sort of body movement.
- Simply breathe.
- Get back in touch with an old hobby – or better yet, start a new one.
- Volunteer your time, give back to your community in some way, or commit a random act of kindness.
- For parents with children who are distance learning, schedule time in your daily work calendar to stop and be present for them.
- Talk about your feelings of stress or despair with a trusted loved one, or a professional.
- Take a moment each day to call out something that you are grateful for.
“It can be very easy to lose hope and forget that we actually will get through this, but we will,” says Bond. “However, there is no single behavior, conversation or treatment that can cure our trauma all at once. Instead we should be aiming toward small, gradual, healing moments which, over time, build us up, bring us together, make us strong, and empower us to rise again tomorrow.”
If you or a loved one is a Blue Shield or Blue Shield Promise member and need mental health support, you are encouraged to log into your account at blueshieldca.com and make an appointment with a specialist.