How are you dealing with 2020 Stress?



Pile-on Polly

Polly is still trying to do it all – work from home, manage online school, cook, clean, keep up with the latest CDC guidelines, stay politically informed, try not to become overwhelmed with fear and worry, take care of friends and neighbors, maybe squeeze in some exercise. Each new day or headline seems to pile-on one more stress, but she keeps running harder and harder on that hamster wheel. Her head hurts, her body hurts, but she is afraid if she stops to take a breath, everything will collapse.

How to Feel Better

Polly is tortured by her to-do-list.  A clearer mind and relaxed body will help her accomplish more in a shorter time.  She must break for a 20-30-minute walk just to decompress. Throughout the day, strategic stretches, like half neck circlesscapular retraction, or an upper trapezius stretch, will reduce her aches and pains.  Plus, she must prioritize sleep by deciding what time she wants to wake up in the morning and count back seven-nine hours. Set a bedtime alarm and build in 30 minutes to wind down and establish a bedtime routine. A restful sleep will help restore her body.

Sedentary Sam

Stress has almost paralyzed Sam. The stressors of 2020 and the quarantine have caused him to hibernate inside, spending more and more of his day scrolling through screens (exacerbating his stress and sometimes his blood pressure), laying on the couch/bed, stress eating, getting poor sleep and little/no exercise. His head and body hurt, and he can’t understand why. Sam is depressed. He might mask the pain with pills which could lead to abuse, addiction, or death – a problem that has increased in COVID-19, according to the American Medical Association. PT is safer than pills!

How to Feel Better

“Motion is Lotion.”  To reduce the aches and pains Sam experiences from the stress/inactivity of his lifestyle and improve his sleep, he needs to start an activity, which can be just walking for 15-20 minutes a day. Second, he should target specific areas of pain – maybe stretching the neck/head or back, and intentionally change positions from sitting to standing, lying down to sitting etc. Sam should also explore meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises that will help with depression and pain. Our virtual reality program helps patients with this and is a great tool to use instead of pills (where applicable).

Workout Wendy

Wendy is working hard to outrun the stress of 2020 – too hard! Exercise is a great stress reliever that gets her blood pumping, takes her mind off her worries, and strengthens muscles and immunity. But too much exercise, or one specific type of exercise, can lead to over-use injury or a host of “-itis” injuries (tendonitis, fasciitis, bursitis), especially if she’s not stretching properly. Self-medicating with pain pills could lead to addiction.

How to Feel Better

Wendy is on track by exercising. Now she must get smart by changing up her exercise to properly work key muscles and give others a rest. Don’t train the same muscle group more than 2-3x a week and add in some cardio. Also, she must make sure the physical stress her body experiences during exercise has time to recover to optimize long-term benefits.  Again, sleep is critical for Wendy to recover and de-stress.


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