Win yourself back from stress



Stress can change you, but you can fix that

Win yourself back from stress


With Covid-19, we are way past notions of “avoiding stress.” Of course, one can still be mindful of many stressful situations, and thus steer clear of them – like, say, toxic people, anxiety-producing media, certain radio stations – but the distinctive combo of pandemic and political upheaval has put stress front and center in many lives, making it unavoidable.

The effects of stress – both physical and mental – can be insidious, sneaking up on you when you think you’re actually OK. Writing for Fatherly, Chuck Morris, Ph.D, a top expert in wellness and sports performance, helps us recognize how stress can manifest, and even better, he offers some easy-to-follow tips on how to deal with it in a healthful way, and reclaim a sense of balance in an increasingly crazy world. All of his tips involve physical activity.

It’s especially helpful that Morris, founder of Fulcrum Performance Lab, is a sports scientist, particularly tuned in to the mind-body connection. Because we all feel like we’re running a marathon, one we were initially told (and in some cases are still being told), would be much less of a distance than it’s turning out to be. We are tired, aggravated, despondent, depressed, anxious, and irritable. Like in a nightmare, the horizon seems to be moving away, not closer.

As the good doctor puts it: “As soon as things seem to be tapering down and businesses reopening, a rise in the number of cases surface, leaving many of us wondering when all of this will end or if this is going to be our new normal. It can all feel overwhelming, and while it’s likely impacting our mental health, it’s also taking a toll on our bodies. To the nervous system, there is no difference between emotional and physical stress, and the only thing our body puts above balance is survival. We are literally in a fluctuating state of fight or flight, and these high intense stressors cause our bodies to experience multiple microtraumas as we attempt to deal with it all. But the right coping strategies can help.”

READ MORE: Mindfulness for the whole family

First off, Morris points out that if you are avoiding people more than usual, you could very well be depressed, and isolating will only make this worse. And if the thought of wearing a mask or socially distancing makes you particularly despondent, that’s a red flag. Also, if you’re drinking, smoking, or engaging in reckless behavior more, all while knowing it’s not in your best interest. He offers a link to a self-assessment scale. 

Among the tips Morris advises to deal with these manifestations of stress are: getting in the sun for at least twenty-five minutes a day, even if it’s cold out. “You can also try any type of outdoor activity where you can see the sun,” he says. “There are a lot of studies that show how the sun affects the brain, especially as you listen to music while you’re doing it. I recommend somewhere between 17 to 25 minutes in the sun and it doesn’t even have to be warm outside. This puts your body in a state of de-stressing and alerts the nervous that everything is ok.”

He also recommends keeping a hand-written journal, asserting that the act of writing longhand, as opposed to typing, can be life changing.

Another physical act he advises is “box breathing,” where you take slow deep breaths. Box breathing calms the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, which lets the body know that it’s not in danger. 

Finally, he says if none of the above helps you, reach out to a mental health professional. Like plumbers and accountants, their jobs are always secure, and they were made for these times.

Call Centers for Mental Health Crises:

Dutchess - 845-486-2700 / 845-485-9700

Orange - 888-750-2266

Ulster - 845-340-9000

National Alliance on Mental Illness
Dutchess County helpline talk or text
845-485-9700 or toll free 877-485-9700

Orange County Crisis Call Center
311 in Orange County
(845) 346-HELP outside Orange County

Orange County Crisis Call Center
Confidential text line for teens for info, referrals or just to chat
Text4Teens is now available 24 hours a day by texting 845-391-1000

Mental and Emotional Wellness Resources: Orange County
Helpline/Rape Line (800) 832-1200

Mobile Mental Health Hotline is the only one of its kind in Sullivan County
The Arc Sullivan-Orange Counties, NY hosts “Children’s Mobile Crisis Intervention” service in the Sullivan County area. The program, which is for children under 18, is designed to assist a parent or guardian in need of an intervention during a time of crisis. The program operates after traditional business hours, when most children are at home.
845-701-3777

NYS has set up a COVID Mental Health Hotline, staffed by over 6,000 MH professionals, that people can access to get online or by phone therapy to cope with the stress, anxiety, isolation, etc.  1-844-863-9314 

Ulster County COVID-19 Hotline: 845-443-8888 

Ulster County Mobile Mental Health - Mobile Mental Health is operated by ACCESS: Supports for Living, between the hours of 10 AM - 10 PM. Call 1-844-277-4820.

Family of Woodstock, Inc.
(845) 679-2485 or 338-2370 
(845) 647-2443
(845) 255-8801




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