What is stress?
Our body is wired to respond efficiently and effectively to all sorts of situations in our day-to-day life. In normal circumstances, our brain is able to organize information, think carefully about how to respond, and make effective decisions about what to do. When we experience major disruptions in the ways we function, like we are during this pandemic, our brain is not able to function as effectively. Our body produces more stress hormones and we may experience more anxiety and distress in both our thinking and in our bodies.
What causes stress?
We are all impacted by the pandemic and many of us are experiencing more stress as a result. All sorts of events can cause us to feel stressed. Knowing what triggers your stress can help you to manage it better. Take a moment to take our Stress Triggers Quiz to learn more about what your triggers might be.
What does stress look like?
Stress looks different from person to person.
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of pre-existing physical health problems. Remember, headaches and stomachaches can be signs of mental health concerns.
- Worsening of mental health or substance use disorder conditions.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.
- Changes in behavioral patterns, adaptive or communication skills in people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
What can I do?
The good news is that there are things you can do to manage your stress that will help you cope better. As you understand the causes of your stress and how they affect you mentally and physically, you can choose an approach to manage your stress better.
If you are interested in learning more about how stress affects your mental and physical reactions, read the Yale Child Study Center – Understanding and Coping with Reactions in a Pandemic.
Stress management plan
Create your own Daily Stress Management Plan and commit to improving your overall health.
Daily Stress Management Plans available in English and Spanish. The 1st page is printable and perfect for the fridge door. The second page is a fillable file perfect to live on your computer:
What are your stress triggers?
Being aware of your stress triggers can help you manage your stress better or learn what to do if you, or someone you care for, needs more support.
Do you need support or ideas to manage your stress?
Take a moment to think about it by starting to understand your stressors.
CDC Guidance | Coping with stress | VISIT | PDF
SAMHSA: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration | Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks | PDF
What to do | Help Guide: Quick stress relief | VISIT
Yale Child Study | Understanding and coping with reactions | PDF
Vermont Department of Mental Health Guidance | Stress and Your Mental Health | PDF