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Ask the Coach: Chronic Stress

Ask the Coach: Chronic Stress

As the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, feelings of anxiety, depression, trauma and stress may become increasingly common.

So what can we do to manage this long term shift in how we live? Today’s “Ask the Coach” article will be based on questions received from numerous contacts.


Dear Dianne,

How do I deal with the stress level that continues to rise as I am stuck at home and afraid this quarantine will never end?


Stress can be defined as a demand placed upon your mental and emotional being that can be caused by both positive or negative circumstances. Every type of demand or stressor—such as exercise, work, school, major life changes, or traumatic events—can be stressful. For immediate, short-term situations, stress can be beneficial to our health. It can help us cope with potentially serious situations. Our bodies were created to respond to stress by releasing hormones that increase our heart and breathing rates and ready our muscles to respond. This is the “Fight or Flight” response of the nervous system and it is a perfectly natural response. The issues come in when the stress lasts too long and our stress hormones stay elevated for an extended amount of time. This is considered chronic stress. The challenges we are facing during this pandemic can amount to chronic stress for many. When our bodies experience chronic stress there is a long list of issues, sicknesses, and even diseases that can arise. Chronic stress may produce symptoms such as irritability, anxiety, depression, headaches, insomnia or worse. It can affect every part of our bodies from our central nervous and endocrine systems to our respiratory and cardiovascular systems to our digestive systems and our muscular and immune systems.

If you are feeling and experiencing a wide variety of issues as your stress level rises and remains, here are some ways you can manage it.

Be Realistic- Sometimes we try so hard to do everything we want to do and when we don’t accomplish the whole list we feel like a failure. Be realistic with what you expect of yourself and your family each day. See if together you all can create a daily list of the tasks or chores that really need to get done and include some that you would like to get done. Remember these are very unique circumstances and you each may need some patience as you adjust.

Disconnect- I know that may sound strange in a time when we yearn to get together and connect with each other. This disconnect is to turn off the news, tv, radio, and social media. Too much negativity will only perpetuate and exacerbate the stress. Replace those with great inspirational music, conversation with your loved ones, read a good book, play games (board games, card games, etc.), laugh and smile. These will help you focus on things that cause your heart-rate and breathing to slow down, decreasing the stress level inside.

Move- Now more than ever we need to move around. Go for a walk, run or bike ride. If the weather is not cooperative, do exercises inside. There are a lot of gyms and wellness studios putting workout and movement sessions online. You could do jumping jacks or squats. Go up and down the stairs in your home several times. Put on upbeat music and dance. There are lots of ways to incorporate exercise and movement into your day. Don’t forget to breathe!!

Practice Gratitude- Each day make a list of 5 things that bring joy in your life. No one thing is too small to put on the list. Be grateful for each and every one of them. Having a grateful heart is truly good medicine to lower your stress (and no negative side effects!).

Readers: If you have a question for Dianne, please send it to her at Names may be changed to protect identities. All questions may not be published here on Rivertown Magazine.

Dianne McKim is a Certified Business and Life Coach with a passion to help her clients achieve their greatest self personally, professionally, and spiritually. Her 35+ years in Corporate America, her training, and her life experiences provide her with deep wisdom to help her clients overcome negative emotions, overwhelm, lack of confidence, and more so they succeed.

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