It’s been nearly a year since life changed for all of us due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Between the loneliness of isolation, the stress of financial worries, and the grief from losing loved ones, it has been an emotionally overwhelming time for many.

Stress can cause feelings of fear, sadness, anger, worry, numbness or frustration. It can impact your appetite, change your sleep patterns, affect your concentration, cause headaches, stomach aches and body pains.

Stress can also lead to an increased use of alcohol, tobacco and other substances. If you or a loved one are having these feelings, you are not alone.

This challenging time can impact anyone. So, it’s important to find ways to cope with stress during this isolating time. Here are some suggestions:

  • Be good to your body: Try to sleep at least six hours a night, exercise regularly, meditate, eat well-balanced healthy meals, and avoid alcohol and tobacco use.
  • Unplug from social media and news: Constant information about the pandemic can wear on you; stay informed but limit your screen time. Instead, enjoy a favorite hobby, play a game with your kids or listen to music.
  • Be in the “now”: Try not to ponder how long this pandemic will last or what you’ve missed over the past year. When your mind goes there, make an effort to return to the present and look for things to be grateful for now.
  • Connect with others: Share your thoughts and concerns, as well as uplifting topics, with a friend or family member. If you want to connect with someone who you don’t live with, consider an online or phone conversation.
  • Know when to seek help: If stress, anxiety or an overwhelming feeling of sadness gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, or you are struggling to cope, call your healthcare provider and discuss options for care. You can also call St. Vincent Hospital – Needs Assessment at 888-950-9090.

This is a challenging time, but we are all in it together. Stay well, and keep practicing mask-wearing, social distancing and hand washing. We will get through this.

Khoa Tran, MD, is a psychiatrist with Saint Vincent Hospital.

— Erie Times-News/Associated Press