Normally, you can handle life’s everyday stressors. You keep your cool when your ADD child can’t stay focused on homework. You work through any relationship issues with your significant other. You find healthy ways to decompress from your stressful job.
But not these days.
Any little thing in your life that isn’t humming along is becoming a compounded trauma due to what you’re experiencing from the pandemic, economic shutdown, and months of physical distancing. The result?
Your nerves are frayed. You’re losing your temper with your ADD child. Your marital problems seem insurmountable. You feel like you need a Quarantini—or 2 or 3 of them—to help you cope with work stress.
What can you do about it?
5 Ways to Cope with Compounded Stress
1. Disinfect your thoughts.
During a stressful pandemic, mental hygiene is just as important as washing your hands. If your head is filled with ANTs (automatic negative thoughts), it is only adding to your stress. Learning to question your thoughts and eliminate unhelpful ANTs can help you begin to see options and come up with solutions for your everyday stressors.
2. Find some “me” time.
Are you so focused on taking care of others—your kids, your spouse, your coworkers—that you’re neglecting your own health and well-being? When you spend all your time helping others without giving yourself the self-care you deserve, you’re left with nothing in the tank. If you’re running on empty, you don’t have the bandwidth to handle additional stress. Schedule time in your day for self-care. Make it an appointment so you’re more likely to stick with it.
3. Boost your blood flow.
When you have low blood flow in the brain, especially in the frontal lobes, it reduces your ability to problem-solve, impairs judgment and decision-making, lowers your empathy, and makes it less likely that you’ll bite your tongue before saying something hurtful to someone you care about. Simple ways to increase blood flow to this area of the brain include physical exercise, meditation, and taking fish oil supplements that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Share your feelings with a friend.
Feeling like you’re all alone with nowhere to turn for help can compound the stress you’re experiencing. Find an ally with whom you can share your feelings. This is different from complaining, which typically centers on blaming or judging others. Sharing feelings helps you get negative thoughts and emotions out of your head so you can move ahead with constructive solutions to the issues you’re facing.
5. Seek professional help.
If you had been coping fairly well with your temper, anxiety, or drinking, or if your child’s ADD or behavioral problems had been treated effectively, but now things have spiraled out of control, it may be time to seek help from a professional.