Living Wise and Well: Monitoring Stress

The USF Wellness Center shares information and tips to get through this unprecedented time.

In our current state of affairs with COVID-19, stress will be a large contributing factor with how we adapt to the global predicament moving forward. Stress is how our body attempts to become accustomed to recent changes in our lives! However, not many people are aware of the two different types of stress we face in our daily lives: eustress and distress.

Eustress can be defined as a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on health, motivation, performance, and emotional well-being. It’s when we utilize problem-solving skills to address quality of life issues like the decision to find a part-time job to make more money, or calling up a friend when we’re feeling sad.

Distress may be defined as an external and usually temporary cause of great physical or mental strain and stress. The more distress we find ourselves taking on in attempt to make sense of the problem, the more strain it causes on the mind, contributing to symptoms of depression and anxiety (feelings of hopelessness, sadness, agitation; avoidance of responsibilities; changes in appetite/sleep patterns).

If you, or your loved ones, find yourselves struggling with any of these complications, here are some healthy tips to remember:

1. Validate your feelings!

It’s okay to not be okay right now – you don’t need to have the answers just yet to the problems you’re currently facing. Provide yourself with some patience and understanding, and practice implementing positive affirmations (this is only temporary; it’s okay to be worried; I am focused on my well-being and health) to remind yourself that you are doing the best you can.

2. Get active!

Just because you are stuck at home does not mean there are not errands or tasks you can’t complete! Jot down a list of small chores to take on for the time being and after accomplishing those, create a list of larger, long-term goals to work on. The more our minds are active and focused, the more we can accomplish and feel good about!

3. Be flexible!

Presently, there is a lot of information being shared that is either credible and from a trustworthy source, or outright inaccurate. Take a break from your research and do something lighthearted: play a game, read a book, talk to family members and friends, look up funny memes and videos. When we make life stressful, our lives become stressful. Take time to brighten your day as well!

4. Extend kindness!

If you are reading this, you must be experiencing a lot of certainty and worry right now. Imagine how your loved ones are feeling as well; think of their well-being and make sure to check in on them when you can. Even our strongest friends or family members have vulnerable moments, so make sure to let them know they are loved and appreciated.

Resources for Monitoring Stress

The #LivingWiseAndWell team are happy to continue providing more assistance regarding stress management in the midst of COVID-19! Here are some articles and resources with tips and tricks to help manage symptoms of distress. Remember that not all stress is bad, but learning these tips and implementing them when distress does happen is key to coping in a healthy way and living well:

This resource is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The article discusses ways to manage anxiety and stress during stressful events, such as the emergence of COVID-19, as well as what stress can look like for different people.

  • Stress can include changes in eating or sleeping habits, fear and worry about your health and the health of loved ones, or increased use of alcohol or drug use. It is important to remember that stress does not look the same for everyone, and each person is going to have a different stress response.
  • Some of the tips for managing stress include taking breaks from the constant news updates on television and social media, making time to unwind and do an activity that you enjoy, and trying to eat healthy well-balanced meals to take care of your body!

This article focuses on tips for managing COVID-19 anxiety based on population. There are sections in this article for everyone: parents, caregivers, mental health providers, and individuals receiving mental health services. This article stresses the importance of not only taking care of your physical well-being, but also your psychological well-being.

  • Some tips for everyone from this article include: choosing reliable sources and establishing boundaries when checking for news updates. It is important to stay well informed, but it is equally important to be getting that information from trusted and reliable sources so that the information is accurate.
  • Another tip for everyone is to find or create spaces that are not focused on COVID-19, so that your mind has time to focus on other things. This can include calling a friend and discussing a different topic, watching a comforting show or movie, or reading a favorite book.

This article from NBC News discusses populations of people who may respond more strongly to the stress of an event. These groups include people who are at higher risk for COVID-19, children and teens, health care providers or first responders, or people who have mental health conditions. This article also breaks down how to best manage stress and anxiety based on the population, which can be very helpful when searching for tips for a specific person. There are tips for adults, children and teens, as well as people who have been released from quarantine.

Make sure to look out for another post from the Counseling Department’s #LivingWiseAndWell team with specific resources for managing stress!

Content provided by:

 Matthew N. Caston, Jr., M.A., LPC
Mary Johnson, Counseling Intern
Brooke Kochevar, Counseling Intern