07:30 AM

Identifying Stress and Practicing Self-Care During Coronavirus

As we adjust to a new normal we need to be sure to take care of ourselves mentally, physically and spiritually. 

Dr. Nevine Sultan, Ph.D, LPC-S, NCC, assistant professor, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, shares tips on identifying and managing stress and practicing mental health self-care.

Signs You Are Stressed

  • Muscle tension; pain in your body, fatigue
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Changes in appetite
  • Use of alcohol/drugs to cope
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Loneliness
  • Irritability

Quick-Start Stress Reduction

  • Exercise; eat a healthy diet
  • Interact (from a distance) with people you trust
  • Pray/Meditate/Journal/Engage creative expression
  • Manage your time
  • Set proper boundaries (Practice saying"No" or "Not right now.")

How you use your body and mind changes your brain and your experience!

Explore the Nature of Your Stress

  • Identify what is stressing you

  • Identify your Holistic response to your stress
    • What is my perception of what's happening?
    • How is my body responding?
    • What emotions am I experiencing?
    • What thoughts are coming up?
    • How might this impact my relationships?
    • What does this mean to me and my way of being?
    • What change and growth options do I have?

Avoid Negative Coping Strategies

  • Don't self-isolate
  • Don't procrastinate
  • Don't steep in denial
  • Don't sleep excessively
  • Don't make excessive use of TV, reading, exercise, social media, online shopping
  • Know that you are not alone; ask for help

Successfully Cope with Stress

  • Use the energy from your stress to be productive
  • Stay informed but keep the focus on things you can control
  • Engage with friends and loved ones via FaceTime, Skype, etc.
  • Take breaks from tasks
  • Stay in the here-and-now
  • Identify the present moment needs first

Practice Mindful Presence, Awareness, and Connectedness - A Brief Excercise

  1. Begin by getting into a comfortable seated position and sensing the rhythm of your breathing.
  2. Note your stress level on a scale of 0-10.
  3. As you breathe in and out, turn your attention to your five senses. One by one, take time to focus your awareness on what you're seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, and touching.
  4. Now, focus your attention on your inner sense of your body. Become aware of sensations you feel from inside your physical being: bones...joints...limbs...extremities...and the organs inside your body.
  5. Bring your attention to how you are experiencing various dimensions of yourself: sensations...emotions...thoughts...memories...hopes...beliefs...dreams...longings...attitudes...intentions. Notice any impulses to come closer to or move away from these experiences.
  6. Take one deep, centering breath.
  7. Connect with things outside of your body. Start by attuning to people who may be physically close to you (from a safe distance). Expand your awareness to those who are further away. Next, expand to those you feel close to, then to others you connect with regularly, such as co-workers, students, instructors, etc. Keep expanding your sense of connection to include those who live in your neighborhood, city, country, continent, the whole world, all living beings on earth.
  8. Take five deep, slow belly breaths, inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth.
  9. Again, note your stress level on a scale of 0 to 10. Also, note other dimensions of your experience of which you are now more aware.