The pandemic has caused a mental health crisis. The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. This is marked with a 93% increase in anxiety screenings and a 62% increase in depression screenings (2020 over 2019) according to Mental Health in America. The number of people screened with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety continued to increase throughout 2020 and remained higher than rates prior to Covid-19. For example, 8 in 10 screened for anxiety scored with moderate to severe symptoms in September of 2020 and 8 in 10 screened for depression consistently scored with moderate to severe symptoms throughout the pandemic. More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm than have ever been recorded in the MHA Screening program since its launch in 2014.
In the 2020 Stress in America report despite several months of acclimating to a new reality spurred by the pandemic, Americans are struggling to cope with the pandemic’s disruptions. Nearly 8 in 10 adults (78%) say Covid-19 is a significant source of stress in their life and 2/3 say their stress has increased due to the pandemic. Nearly half say the pandemic has had a negative effect on their physical and emotional well-being. Sixty-five percent of adults report the current amount of uncertainty in our nation causes them stress and 77% say the future of our nation is a significant source of stress (up from 56% in 2019).
Your stress level is probably elevated from reading all of these distressing stats on our mental health! How does stress affect people physically, mentally, and emotionally? Stress can physically lead to heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, muscle tension, and accelerated aging to name a few. Stress can mentally lead to anxiety, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, feelings of overwhelm, irritability or anger, and sadness or depression. Stress can cause one to act in unhealthy ways such as overeating or undereating, angry outbursts, drug or alcohol misuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal, or exercising less often.
Taking steps to manage and minimize your stress is critical. Here are some tips to consider:
- Get regular physical exercise
- Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, yoga, massage, or meditation
- Don’t take yourself too seriously, make sure you have a good belly laugh daily
- Make sure you spend time with your loved ones and good friends routinely
- Carve out time for the activities that you love
- Keep things in perspective and focus on the moment
- Reach out for help and support
What your stress level? Take the free Stress Index assessment today. Just follow this link, provide your email, and the assessment will be sent to you. If your stress level is moderate or high, consider options to reduce your stress by altering your lifestyle and the methods you use to cope with stress, as well as if having a coach might be another step in the stress-less direction.