BUFFALO, N.Y. — For some, it's a daily battle. For others it builds over time. Stress is only getting worse for Americans as the pandemic continues, but there are ways to fight back at home.
"A lot of people I see are pushing their feelings aside and just saying, ‘it’s okay, it’s normal, I’ll deal with it, it’s okay,' and then it blows up over the smallest thing," said Dr. Wendy Weinstein, a unit chief at Brylin Hospital in Buffalo. It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back."
Nearly 8 in 10 Americans say the pandemic is a significant source of stress in their life and 7 in 10 Americans say that stress has gotten worse over the course of the pandemic, according to the American Psychological Association.
"There’s a lot more stress, there’s stress of the unknown, stress of the future, people are feeling uncertain," Weinstein said.
She says now is the time to reverse the trend, as April is Stress Awareness Month.
"All people can benefit from this. People who feel like they don’t need to seek professional help can benefit from this. People who feel like they’re doing okay can get a little bit from this," Weinstein said.
It’s a personal battle — one that Weinstein says you can win.
"Pay attention to the physical because the brain and the body are connected so many times when you’re having physical symptoms, that can be a sign, too of stress," she said,
Stress can hit 5 places on your body:
- Your head (dizziness, headaches, nightmares)
- Your mouth (nail biting, chapped lips)
- Your throat (trouble swallowing, dry mouth, coughing)
- Your chest (trouble breathing, heart palpitations, chest pain)
- Your stomach (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea)
Stress can put you down, but not out. There are five secret weapons you can always use to fight back:
- Touch (petting a dog or cat, asking a loved one for a hug)
- Taste (cooking or ordering your favorite meal or dessert)
- Sight (looking at old photos or watching your favorite show)
- Sound (jam out to your favorite song)
- Smell (getting outside to smell the flowers or find a scent that brings good memories)
“I’ll spray some perfume that reminds me of something and that brings them back to the present, or take a walk around the block, it’s important to come back to reality and be mindful of what’s going on around you," Weinstein said.
If you go out and have fun to release stress, try not to indulge in unhealthy coping mechanisms like drugs or alcohol. Weinstein says that could bring even more stress.
"And it’s so important when people are under stress, if they don’t take care of themselves they’re not going to be able to take care of others," she said.
Important Phone Numbers
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, the following resources are available 24/7:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Crisis Services (local) 716-834-3131
- Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860
- Trans Lifeline Canada 1-877-330-6366
This story was originally published by Taylor Epps on WKBW in Buffalo.