When people are faced with exceptionally difficult situations, it can be tough to navigate daily life. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has placed millions of people in circumstances that are tough enough on their own, including loss of income, a lack of positive social interaction and serious health concerns. However, for those who already struggle with anxiety, high levels of stress or depression, these times can be devastating and even downright crippling when coupled together.

Keep in mind that some amount of stress and anxiety is to be expected when normal life takes a drastic turn. However, if you find yourself unable to function, rest or manage troubling emotions, it’s important to take action for your mental and physical health. When these issues aren’t addressed, they can put you at risk for serious complications, such as drug usage or relapse, a physical or mental breakdown and even suicidal tendencies. Fortunately, there are several ways you can manage your symptoms for a better quality of life, even during difficult times.

Prioritize the Basics

If life feels hard, it can be surprisingly easy to neglect the basics of health and hygiene. When your mind is in overdrive, you often find that you can’t slow down for the necessities. At the same time, if you’re lacking the motivation needed to care for yourself, it’s easy to go a long stretch without a healthy meal or a hot shower. Many people in stressful situations tend to exacerbate their symptoms by forgetting to take care of their bodies. If you’re feeling worse than normal, run through the following checklist:

  • Have I eaten a healthy, well-balanced meal today?
  • Am I drinking enough water?
  • Have I had at least six hours of restful sleep in the past 24 hours?
  • Have I showered recently?

While these simple tasks aren’t always enough to completely relieve stress and reduce anxiety on their own, research has shown that they help make significant strides in improving negative symptoms. You can click here for even more information on how and why to properly care for yourself in difficult times. Simply prioritizing your most basic needs can make a huge difference.

Communicate Frequently and Openly

Keeping your feelings and struggles to yourself is isolating and can do much more harm than good. While it isn’t necessarily helpful to overshare on social media, confiding in a close friend or companion can help release those burdens while allowing you to accept the support you need. If talking isn’t your strong suit, consider starting a journal instead. Whether you write with an old fashioned pen to paper or type up a word document, it can be therapeutic to express what you’re experiencing.  You can also find support in mental health apps, which are a great resource.

In addition, many people could truly benefit from speaking with a professional therapist on a regular basis. These specialists can help you develop a plan with personalized techniques to manage your symptoms more effectively. It’s also a safe space to be open and honest without fear of judgment or repercussions. Many companies now offer online counseling or communications by phone when you can’t leave the house.

Learn Self-Care That Works for You

In order to keep the unwanted symptoms of anxiety and stress at bay, it’s helpful to fill your time with healthy practices that occupy your mind with positive thoughts and emotions. Activities are a great place to start and can vary based on your interests and needs. Exercise, yoga, art, puzzles and reading can help improve your focus, relieve stress and push away negative mentalities for the time being. Stretching, meditating or soaking in a hot bath can reduce tension and promote better sleep. You may want to concentrate on living a healthier lifestyle, having a better diet, taking supplements, and even trying something like CBD oils. Now is a great time to try new things. You may be surprised at what becomes your new go-to stress reliever.

Talk With a Doctor About Treatment Options

While there are plenty of all-natural methods that can help improve your mental health, there are many situations where medical treatment is both appropriate and necessary. Unfortunately, a stigma surrounds treating depression and anxiety with medication. However, the negative impacts of stress and cortisol can be significantly reduced with even low dosages of the right meds. Talk to your doctor and find out what your options are to help you overcome crippling symptoms.

If you are struggling with higher levels of stress and anxiety, taking simple yet meaningful action right away can help improve your symptoms. By taking care of yourself, you can enjoy a better outlook on life, even during hard times.