updated February 2024

A recent survey by the American Psychological Association tells us something we already knew: the pandemic has sent stress levels into overdrive. People are overwhelmed and it is taking a toll on our physical and mental health.

  • Nearly half of survey respondents said that the pandemic had increased their stress levels.
  • Over 40% said they’d gained weight during the pandemic.
  • Nearly a quarter said they are drinking more.
  • Nearly two-thirds are sleeping too much or too little.
  • A third of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depression.

Stress is one of the most frequent reasons people turn to ESI EAP for coaching and counseling. A stress overload can hurt our health. It has been linked to diabetes, heart disease, weight gain, and other medical conditions. Plus, people often turn to unhealthy measures to try to relieve stress, such as drinking too much, eating too much, or relying on drugs.

Although you can’t eliminate stress, you can learn to better control it through stress management techniques. One way is to be sure to take advantage of any programs that your employer offers, such as a wellness benefit or an Employee Assistance Program.

Remember: Your EAP is here to help!

If things seem to be too much, keep in mind that ESI EAP offers a variety of stress management resources to our employee Members.  Here are a few of the resources we offer:

  • 24-7-365 access to experienced Counselors via our helpline
  • Telephonic one-to-one Coaching programs in Stress Management
  • Self-Help Resources at www.theEAP.com
  • Stress Management & Resilience Trainings

Stress management tips from our counselors and coaches

We’re reprinting some of the tips and techniques that our counselors and stress coaches have offered previously, and we’re lining to past newsletters and post on the topic.

Track your stress. Keep a daily stress journal – it might just be brief notes that you add to your calendar. Jot down good and bad things that happened, making note anything that caused you stress. Over time, you may be able to track patterns in your moods and stress, which will give you clues about triggers.

Spend time with the people who replenish you. When we are busy or under pressure, we often don’t make the time to spend with friends and family. This is counterproductive because the good feelings we get from people we love can be therapeutic and restorative. Make time to be with the people who build you up; as much as you can, limit your exposure to negative or toxic people.

Meditate. Even if you’ve never taken a class in “formal” meditation, you can learn calming techniques. Get in the habit of setting aside a few minutes a day to find a quiet corner in your home or workplace, shut out the day’s distractions, and concentrate on a simple thought – such as memory of a natural or a peaceful place that you love. Concentrate on your breathing.

Express yourself. Don’t bottle up your feelings. It’s okay to cry, to laugh, to be angry. Learn how to tell people your feelings in appropriate ways. Find trusted people you can vent to so that you can get your negative feelings out of your system and move on.

Exercise. It almost doesn’t matter what exercise we do – the benefits of focused physical activity can yield a calming effect on our minds. Yoga is particularly helpful, but do what you like best – walk, run, swim, or take a bike ride.

Immerse yourself in nature. The serenity benefits that exposure to beautiful, natural places can have cannot be overstated. Go for a walk in nature and really take it in. Pay attention to the details and appreciate the wonder.

Learn how to say no. For many of us, this is difficult, particularly to an authority figure or someone we love. Learn how to set limits and put it in practice so you do not get overextended.

Have fun. Do something you enjoy or that gives you satisfaction and focus every day. It can be particularly helpful if it’s a calming activity like listening to music, reading a book, or spending a few minutes with a crossword or jigsaw puzzle.

Get a pet. It might seem like adding another responsibility to your life will add to your stress, but pets can be very therapeutic and pull us out of ourselves. Playing with a cat or taking daily walks with a dog can relieve stress.

Give yourself a break. Accept that it’s OK to be imperfect or make mistakes. While it’s helpful to learn from our imperfections so that we can resolve to do better the next time, don’t beat yourself up.

Stress topics from our archives


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