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Coping Strategies for Post Pandemic Stress: A Guide for Managing Stress and Anxiety

Updated: Jul 27, 2023

Key Points:

  • Stress and anxiety are normal reactions to the pandemic, but it is important to identify and manage them to protect mental and physical wellbeing.

  • Coping strategies such as problem-solving, seeking social support, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in physical activity can help to improve mental health outcomes.

  • Seeking professional help can provide the best diagnosis and treatment plan for managing stress and anxiety.

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In the post-pandemic world, many of us have been struggling with high levels of stress and anxiety. This article will provide an overview of stress and anxiety - what it is, types of stress, causes, and effects - and draw from knowledge of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), physical activity, relaxation techniques, and professional help to offer useful coping strategies.

We explore the advantages of engaging in physical activity, the purpose of CBT and MBSR, as well as a variety of methods to address stressful situations. By the end of this article, readers should be able to recognize when to seek professional assistance, understand the consequences of stress on the body, and apply practical skills to mitigate their post-pandemic stress in a safe and effective manner.

Overview of Stress and Anxiety

Stress and anxiety are common reactions to the pandemic, and can have detrimental impacts on an individual's mental and physical wellbeing. Stress is an emotional and physical response to a perceived threat, while anxiety is an emotional state characterized by feelings of apprehension, fear, and unease.

It is important to identify and manage stress in order to reduce its negative effects, both during and after the pandemic.

Types of Stress

Stress can be classified into three distinct categories : acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress is a brief form of stress that dissipates quickly, and can be caused by an unexpected event, such as a job interview or public speaking.

Episodic acute stress is characterized by recurrent acute stress episodes, and often occurs in response to prolonged and unpredictable stressors. Chronic stress is a prolonged form of stress that can be caused by persistent and difficult life circumstances, such as financial difficulties or health issues.

Causes of Stress

The primary sources of stress are typically attributed to work-related pressures, financial difficulties, personal relationships, health concerns, and traumatic occurrences.

Work-related pressures can be caused by an overload of tasks, unrealistic expectations, fear of failure, or lack of control. Financial issues can lead to stress due to the fear of not being able to make ends meet.

Personal relationships can become strained if there is a lack of trust, communication breakdowns, or unresolved conflicts. Health concerns can also be a source of stress, especially if a person is living with a chronic illness or injury. Traumatic occurrences, such as the death of a loved one, can also cause significant stress.

Effects of Stress

Stress can have a range of physical effects on the body, including headaches, muscle tension, exhaustion, digestive issues, and an increased likelihood of health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Stress can also have a negative impact on mental health, leading to poorer mental health outcomes and mental disorder symptoms, as well as severe mental health symptoms in some cases.

The pandemic has also contributed to significant global health events and mental health change, with research showing that pandemic related challenges have led to an increase in mental health problems and mental health symptoms. Positive reframing has been shown to decrease anxiety and improve mental health outcomes.

Coping Strategies

Coping strategies are methods employed to manage stress or difficult situations. These strategies can be divided into five main categories: problem-focused coping, emotion-focused coping, meaning making, social support, and religious coping. Examples of coping strategies include problem-solving, seeking social support, practicing mindfulness, and engaging in physical activity.

Different coping strategies can be used to address different types of stress and anxiety, and it is important to assess which strategies work best for an individual. A study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health investigated the effects of different coping strategies on mental health and found that forward positive emotional coping strategies were associated with better mental health outcomes.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the University of Texas explored the coping strategies used by youth with a mental health diagnosis, and found that remaining coping strategies tended to be associated with higher scores on measures of positive psychological transformation.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that is structured, goal-oriented, and focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is commonly used to treat conditions such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder, and is intended to help individuals manage overwhelming problems in a more positive manner by breaking them down into smaller components and altering negative patterns to improve their mental health.

CBT is based on the premise that our thoughts and behaviors are connected, and by recognizing and reframing distorted thoughts, individuals can better cope with stressful situations. A study by the Medical Research Council found that CBT was effective at reducing anxiety and improving mental health outcomes in individuals with pre-existing mental health conditions.

Furthermore, a study by the Medical Benefits Fund found that CBT was able to predict mental health outcomes and was an effective treatment for post traumatic stress disorder.

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is an evidence-based program that provides eight weeks of intensive mindfulness training to help individuals cope with stress and anxiety. This program is based on the concept of mindfulness, which is the practice of being aware and present in the moment without judgement or criticism.

During the MBSR program, individuals learn mindfulness meditation and yoga practices, as well as techniques to help them become more aware of their thoughts and feelings and how to manage them. The program also helps individuals to simultaneously preserve mental health and physical wellness during times of stress and crisis.

Studies have found that MBSR is effective in reducing anxiety, depression, and post traumatic stress disorder, and in improving mental health and quality of life.

Physical Activity

Engaging in regular physical activity can be beneficial in managing stress and anxiety, as it can stimulate the release of endorphins and other natural brain chemicals that can improve one's sense of well-being. Additionally, physical activity can help alleviate tension, anger, and mild depression that are often associated with stress.

Studies involving human participants have found that regular health appointments, physical health, and mental and physical health are all related to better mental health outcomes. Furthermore, the World Health Organization's Declaration of Good Clinical Practice Guidelines states that statistical analysis and demographic characteristics should be used to assess the raw data supporting these results.

Lastly, a sample reported significant growth in the number of people seeking professional help for mental health and anxiety issues in the last few months.

Relaxation Techniques

Relaxation techniques are a type of coping strategy that can be used to manage stress and anxiety. These techniques involve consciously inducing the relaxation response, a physiological state of deep rest that is the opposite of the body's fight-or-flight response. The relaxation response can be induced through a variety of practices, such as deep breathing, meditation, guided imagery, yoga, tai chi, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Studies have shown that these relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and promote positive emotions. Furthermore, research has found that positive reframing, the practice of viewing negative situations in a more positive light, decreased anxiety levels in participants.

Lastly, it is important to be aware of dysfunctional coping strategies, such as substance abuse or avoidance, and to explore other, healthier coping strategies. Exploring and assessing different coping strategies can help individuals find the best approach to managing their stress and anxiety.

Seeking Professional Help

Professional assistance for stress and anxiety should be sought when it begins to have a detrimental effect on daily activities, such as when anxiety causes one's world to become restricted. It is important to seek professional help in order to receive the best diagnosis and treatment plan for the individual’s unique situation. It can also be beneficial to work with a professional to explore the various coping strategies discussed in this article and to have access to personalized advice to find the most effective strategies for each individual.

Types of professionals who can help with stress and anxiety include psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers, and counselors. A patient should do their research to determine which professional is right for them. They should look into the experience and qualifications of the professional, as well as their fees and policies. Additionally, patients should ensure that the professional is licensed in the state in which they live.

When seeking professional help, patients should look for health care providers who are trained in mental health conditions and can provide timely health services. It is important to access timely health services in order to reduce the severity of a mental health condition and its long-term effects.

When preparing for a first appointment, patients should make sure to provide their medical history, including any mental health diagnosis history, and write down any questions or concerns they have about their mental health. Patients should also be aware of any financial or social concerns that may be impeding their access to mental health services, such as an inability to pay for services or difficulty getting to appointments. Additionally, patients should be open with their provider about any dysfunctional coping strategies they have been using, such as substance abuse, as this will help their provider create the best treatment plan for them.


The pandemic has caused widespread stress and anxiety for many worldwide. To cope with this difficult period, it is important to identify the underlying cause of the stress in order to come up with effective strategies for managing this issue. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is one such coping strategy that can be used to help alleviate negative thought processes, as well as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that can be used to promote healthy relaxation techniques. Additionally, physical activity and seeking professional help can have beneficial effects when it comes to managing stress and anxiety.

Ultimately, while these may seem daunting times, by utilizing the aforementioned coping strategies, individuals can manage their stress levels in a healthy and balanced way. Self-care during such uncertain times is key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, both mental and physical. In order to reduce negative consequences of stress, it is important to practice and maintain healthy coping methods; allowing individuals to move through these times feeling more empowered and in control.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you cope with stress after a pandemic?

Start a mindfulness practice; this will allow you to take time away from the noise of the world and get back in touch with yourself. Focusing on your breathing, being present in the moment and reflecting on how you’re feeling can reduce levels of stress and help restore peace. Combining this with a healthy diet and getting enough sleep is key.

To cope with stress after a pandemic, it's important to prioritize self-care by engaging in activities that bring joy, such as journaling, reading, or spending time outdoors. Finding a good balance between staying informed but not being overwhelmed can also help maintain a sense of calm. Reaching out for support from loved ones can also be beneficial in managing stress.

How do you cope with stress experiences challenges brought by COVID-19 pandemic?

To cope with the stress that comes with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to practise good self-care such as managing our stress levels, finding enjoyable hobbies, interrupting negative thought patterns, listening to our bodies, limiting news coverage and social media, maintaining regular routines and talking to trusted people.

Through these practices, we can better manage the challenge of these times.

What was the top coping technique for people during the pandemic?

Overall, the top coping technique for people during the pandemic was maintaining connections with family and friends, as well as focusing on hobbies or activities to help distract from stressors. Through these strategies, people were able to manage their mental health while adjusting to the various challenges of the pandemic.


Are you having challenges recovering from the emotional effects of the pandemic?

Explore your wellness with the Post-Pandemic Recovery Workbook. This workbook is designed by professionals utilizing the best of the clinical literature on self-improvement to assist you in achieving your wellness goals.


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