Stress is a part of everyday life. People experience stress in one of two ways: positive or negative, said Linda Inmon of the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

“Negative stress takes a toll on the body and mind by weakening the immune system as we brace and wait for the pandemic to finally be over,” said Inmon said, an Extension associate-family and consumer sciences at UAPB. “However, to ensure that it does not become overwhelming, we must recognize and address our stress because of the pandemic.”

Positive stress is getting that promotion someone’s been seeking, buying that dream house or car, or getting married to the person one wants to be with for the rest of their lives, Inmon said.

Negative stress can cause extreme anxiety especially during times of uncertainties such as the case with the current pandemic (COVID-19).

It is easy for most people to recognize signs of stress because they know their own bodies. Some signs of stress include, but are not limited to, headaches, anxiety, anger, fatigue, stomach problems, trouble concentrating and a feeling of despair, she said. However, each person handles stress differently.

When stressors are broken into manageable parts, it makes it easier to deal with, Inmon said.

“Start by thinking about what is bothering you the most,” she said. “Write your stressors on a sheet of paper and cross off those items that are least likely to affect you or your family.”

“Change the things that you can by creating strategies to help you maintain focus. Stop worrying about the things you can’t do anything about. And stay informed but take breaks from watching, reading or listening to news, including social media,” Inmon said.

Another thing people can do to reduce or eliminate stress is to maintain as much of a routine as possible.

“Prepare for each day as if you were going to work or school,” Inmon said. “It is important to maintain healthy eating habits and drink plenty of water to nourish your body and brain. If you are a primary caregiver, remember to set aside time for yourself to relax and renew your energy.”

“Stay active and laugh often,” Inmon said.

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