Dear Carolyn,

Stress! I cannot believe the blossoming stress from the pandemic. I got my vaccine, but I am still afraid of Delta. When this all started, I did not think it would last so long – much less the two years that it seems like it is going to last. My family is suffering. I argue more with my husband than pre-pandemic. How do I handle this stress? I often cannot sleep.


Carolyn Answers,

Without question, the pandemic has created spikes in anxiety and major depression. Children may be suffering more than adults. Of course, counseling may help. I would be careful about getting on psych medications because of the pandemic stress. I would look for other solutions – such as exercise and counseling, which a Duke study shows is as effective in treating depression as pills like Prozac.

Next, I would look at some guidelines for not stressing about things you cannot control. Forbes contributor Psychotherapist Amy Morin has “6 Ways To Stop Stressing About Things You Can’t Control.” 1) Define what you can control. Sometimes all you can control is your mindset toward the pandemic. 2)What do you fear? I know personally that the death from COVID-19 of a colleague my age, who was vaccinated from COVID, has brought new fears to me. 3) Where can you assert your influence? For example,  you can make sure your child has the tools needed to deal with the pandemic at school. With a friend, you can assert your opinions. 4) What is going through your brain? Are you working on a solution to a problem? Or, are you replaying old conversations, which is called ruminating? Try to refocus those brain waves to solutions to problems. 5) Develop a stress management plan. Write down your diet, exercise and sleep plan. Do your best to stick to the plan most of the time. 6) Finally, train your brain for health affirmations. According to Morin, it is estimated that a person has 70,000 thoughts per day. Do your thoughts go in a positive direction or a negative direction? I found myself watching too much news on television about the pandemic, which led me down negative paths. I decided to limit my exposure to such information to a small amount of time weekly. Yes, I need to be current, but one does not need to hyperfocus on the negativity.

Try these ideas. Please write back and let me know the results. Take care and be safe.


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