By now you’ve probably heard the news: we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. That means physical health is taking the spotlight, but it’s important to pay attention to our mental health too. As routines and lives shift, it’s natural to experience stress and anxiety.

How you manage that stress depends on many personal and situational factors. But there are common signs that stress and anxiety may be getting the best of you.

Signs You’re Experiencing Anxiety and Stress

  • 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 chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Do any of those sound familiar? If so, it might be time for you to reconsider some of your daily habits. Keeping your mental health strong can be really helpful during a high-stress time. Think about it: if you have a bad back, your doctor gives you exercises to get stronger. There are also exercises you can perform to improve your mental health and ease the burden of stress.

Habits to Decrease Stress During the Pandemic

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you’re feeling.

Good habits can go a long way. But, managing mental health during a time of crisis can be incredibly difficult. If you notice your stress levels are getting in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, you may need more help. We want you to know that’s okay. A great place to start is by calling your health care provider.

If you don’t have a health care provider, need more help than they can give, or would just prefer to start elsewhere, there are many local resources that may be able to help.

General Mental Health Resources

  • Cardinal Innovation’s Live, 24-7 Access/Crisis Line: 1-800-939-5911 or www.cardinalinnovations.org
  • National Alliance on Mental Health Illness (NAMI) Charlotte: 704-333-8218
  • Mental Health America of Central Carolinas: 704-365-3454
  • Promise Resource Network 24/7 Hotline: 1-833-390-7728
  • Atrium Behavioral Health’s Emergency Helpline: 704-444-2400
  • Mecklenburg County’s Mobile CriSys: 704-566-3410 (option 1)
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1

Are you…

  • Experiencing a domestic violence, sexual assault, or parenting crisis? Call the local 24-hour Greater Charlotte Hope Line: 980-771-4673
  • Dealing with domestic violence? Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • Experiencing emotional distress or feeling suicidal? The National Suicide Hotline is free and confidential: 1-800-273-8255
  • Dealing with teen dating violence? Text LOVEIS to 22522
  • Having trouble with essential services including food assistance and information regarding shelters? Dial 211
  • A tobacco user with a mental health condition (bi-polar disorder, depression, drug or alcohol use disorder, etc)? Call 1-800-Quit-Now

Remember: your mental health is just as important as your physical health. When one is lacking, it can have a negative impact on the other.

More information and resources for handling your health can be found on the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 website