With an ongoing pandemic and all the major life changes it has caused, stress levels are at an all-time high. Whether you were directly affected by the virus or you are concerned you may be, or you are worried about the consequences, you are probably feeling more stressed than usual. 

So how can we manage our stress levels? Here are a few tips that may help.

Become aware of your body’s response to stress

We are often so focused on our job, study, or even other people like our family members, that we don’t take the time to be conscious of our own bodies. 

Stress can manifest in different ways from trouble sleeping, low energy, and tense muscles to the inability to focus, forgetfulness, or changes in appetite. Taking some time in evaluating your thoughts, feelings and any physiological changes can help you identify whether you are stressed out. 

Try doing a relaxing activity

If you realize you are feeling stressed, try taking some time for yourself and doing something relaxing. You don’t need to take an expensive trip to the spa. Try meditation or breathing exercises, both proven ways of reducing stress. 

Belly breathing is a very simple exercise that you can do before going to bed. Lie down, place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest and inhale slowly through your nose, feeling the air fill your belly. Then slowly breathe out through your mouth emptying your belly. Repeat at least three times. 

Exercise regularly

The link between exercise and stress relief has long been proven by research. During exercise we produce endorphins, a group of hormones that work a little like painkillers, reducing stress levels and making you feel better. 

You don’t need to lift weights for one hour in the gym to combat stress. Just a 30-minute walk or a short hike can produce pretty much the same effect. Just make sure to do it regularly, ideally every day.

Get your priorities in order

If you feel like you have too much on your plate, take a moment to consider your priorities. Sometimes we take on too much because we don’t want to say no to people. But doing so can take a toll on your mental and physical health.

Focus on the things that matter the most to you and the people close to you. Say no when you realize taking an additional task could be overwhelming. And remember that this applies to yourself too. Don’t demand too much from yourself and accept that sometimes we just can’t get everything done and that is okay.

Consider talking to a health professional

If you feel that no matter what you try you are still feeling stress, consider talking to a health professional. You don’t need to solve everything on your own and sometimes even talking to someone can help. 

If you don’t know who to talk to, consider bringing up the discussion with your primary care provider. They can help point you in the right direction.