Stress Pandemic and You: symptoms that signal you need help

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We are not living in ordinary times. Our reasonable adaptations for stress may not serve us well when stress comes every day and sometimes ever hour. When the stability of our economics, our politics, our relationships, our health, our physical safety and the safety of those we love is continually challenged, finding balance and reasonableness can be difficult or impossible. 

When we live in a pandemic of stress, tempers flare. Tears pour. Relationships suffer. Self-awareness dims and self-doubt increases. Old coping mechanisms for stress control like eating disorders, smoking, drinking alcohol, raging, binge watching, shopping, hoarding return.

These behaviors signal that your normal coping behaviors don't work in abnormal conditions.  Yet, in this stress, you have opportunity.

If you have an eight-ounce glass to catch seven ounces of water, all is well. But that glass can’t handle ten ounces of water. You’ll live in the spill. And at times, if you are under a waterfall, the eight-ounce glass is completely irrelevant as it and you and everything you know and care about is pummeled and washed away.

Moving toward opportunity means, first, to wake up your awareness. You are suffering and lack the ability to recognize or cope or resolve your suffering. Such awareness may add to your fears of helplessness and unworthiness. But that’s not a loss. That’s a win. You now know that everything you are doing to help yourself is not working.

Such awareness allows you to give up on what doesn’t work and turn to new paths leading to strength, competence, and renewal.

All the growth and development you have achieved in your life equipped you to live in the pre pandemic world. Now, as stress bears down harder than ever, you need more more growth and development.  This is a time to look for your new pathways. One source of help is psychotherapy. It’s time to bring your mind, spirit, and body to a kind, nourishing and healing environment so you can develop what you need now.

The Mayo Clinic gives us this list of stress effects: If you are experiencing any of these effects, please reach out for the help you need to grow through this stress and into a more rich, satisfying, and competent life.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, private psychotherapy. E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a free telephone consultation.


On your body

On your mood

On your behavior



Overeating or undereating

Muscle tension or pain


Angry outbursts

Chest pain

Lack of motivation or focus

Drug or alcohol misuse


Feeling overwhelmed

Tobacco use

Change in sex drive

Irritability or anger

Social withdrawal

Stomach upset

Sadness or depression

Exercising less often

Sleep problems



Mayo Clinic

The term "Stress Pandemic" was introduced to me by Marie Campion, therapist and director of in Dublin, Ireland and author of Hope: Understandng Eating Disorders.

Joanna Poppink, MFT, private practice psychotherapist, E-mail for free telephone consultation. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Book: Healing Your Hungry Heart: recovering from your eating disorder

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