The last year and a half have been stressful for nearly everyone. Living through a pandemic, experiencing loss and the isolation that comes along with it can wreak havoc on your mental health.

If stress has begun to cause you significant daily discomfort, it may be time to seek support from your doctor or mental health provider. It’s also important to look at your daily lifestyle and consider ways that you can make changes to relieve your stress.

Here are steps to take to help you address your stress and find relief.

Know the Signs
It’s important to know the signs of stress and how it may be negatively impacting your health. If you notice increased irritability, trouble sleeping, memory issues, withdrawing from social situations you once enjoyed, developing headaches or frequent indigestion, it’s a good idea to visit a doctor and determine whether stress is the culprit.

Identify Your Stressors
If stress is impacting your sense of well-being, it’s time to identify what your stressors are. When you know what’s stressing you, it makes it easier to take steps to resolve the issues or remove the stressful choices from your life. Consider daily journaling, talking to a mental health professional or a trusted friend or family member to help you unpack some of what is weighing you down.

Keep Moving
Moving your body and exercising regularly can make a huge impact on your mood and physical health. You don’t have to choose high intensity forms of movement to stay active. Walk, swim, ride your bike or take a yoga class. Not only will it get blood flowing, but it can help to stimulate feel good chemicals in your brain, releasing endorphins that can help to provide you with a sense of ease and relief.

Stay Connected
Rather than isolate yourself during times of stress, reach out to your friends and family for social support and connection. Having strong, trusted relationships is paramount to mental health, and your loved ones can help to be your sounding board, listen to you express your feelings or support you in seeking additional health. If your stress is related to grief or loss, your loved ones may be going through it with you. Having someone to share your burdens can lighten the load for you both.

Develop a New Hobby
Try getting outside of your comfort zone and trying something new. Sometimes the monotony of a routine needs to be shaken up, and you can do this simply by making small changes to your daily schedule. Try adding a morning walk into your routine to start your day. Consider volunteering at a local library or animal shelter. Take a virtual knitting or crafting class with a friend. Whatever you do, remind yourself of your capabilities and strength by doing something completely new.

Ask for Help
When stress becomes too much, it’s time to ask for help. Reach out to your doctor or mental health care provider. You may want to discuss your issues with your pastor or clergy member. Even reaching out to a family member for help in getting through it is a good start. You aren’t alone in feeling stress, grief or pain, and finding the support you need is a first step in getting through it.