Dealing with stress in 2021: It can be better


When daily life suddenly changed — in the middle of March this year — it caused stress. We have been stressed for so long, that we are tired, emotionally, all the time.

Everyone reacts to stress differently. However, there are some patterns that health and public health scientists and doctors agree about:

What are psychological and emotional signs of stress?

  • Depression or anxiety.
  • Anger, irritability, or restlessness.
  • Feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Racing thoughts or constant worry.
  • Problems with your memory or concentration.
  • Making bad decisions.


I want to dive a little deeper about that that looks like.

Depression or anxiety. These are diagnoses, not signs. Anger, irritability, or restlessness, feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated, or unfocused, having trouble sleeping or sleeping too much, experiencing racing thoughts or constant worry, experiencing problems with your memory or concentration are all signs of depression and/or anxiety.

Making bad decisions is the behavioral result. Decision-making is harder because of those feeling and concentration problems.

Bad decisions make things worse

If you are losing your stuff because you can’t find the remote control, you are stressed. If you yell at anyone who can hear, you are making a bad decision.

Right now, after nearly nine months of living indoors more than normal, seeing fewer people than normal, seeing your household far more than normal, we are stressed. We are making bad decisions.  

Everyone is feeling it, and making their brand of bad decision. Mine is being loud and sarcastic about important things, like lost remote controls. Since my household is used to me being loud and sarcastic, I do little harm. Yet, it is a bad decision. Recognizing this, I put bright colored tape on the remote last night. (It only took eight months to think of that).

TO DO LIST: One thing

This is the prescription for a better 2021.

Lockdown tool kit


At least once a week, be generous with your time or your money — whichever you have more of.

You feel better when you do things for others. It will help your stress levels and reduce the UCK in the world, by helping help someone else.

Also, some of the other things on this list do not cost much, in time or money. Add what you can to take better care of yourself.


Being who I am, my Facebook world is full of articulate women who have the skills to articulate their fatigue.

Woman #1

“I am grateful for all of you in my life. So I hope you will read this with as much gentleness as I can muster: 

I am a single parent, trying to work full time from home, with a kid who has executive function challenges who is at school full time in the apartment and a dog. There’s no one else here. There’s no one to walk the dog, there’s no one to make sure the laundry gets done (and I have to take it out of the building, because some of my neighbors think mask wearing in closed spaces is optional), there’s no one. 

Please don’t suggest I add things to what I’m already struggling so hard to manage. Sometimes I can shrug it off, and sometimes it feels like I’m being crushed. 

And I know I’m not the only person who feels this way.”

If I lived in the same city as this friend, I would do her laundry once a month or more.

Woman #2

“My exhaustion led me to respond to this woman’s unsolicited advice/shaming with behavior that I’ve never exhibited in public before, and I’m embarrassed by my response. I went home and cried for hours after the encounter. 

And…my head this morning is ringing with her words. I’m still wounded and angry. I’m crying right now. I’m a full grown woman who got shamed by a neighborhood bully. 

I guess I am writing this to remind folks that everyone is low on resilience right now. I’m asking for a little grace for all of the exasperated [child/dog/dragon] moms out there who are doing their best… “

Reminder to everyone! Woman #2 made a request. Most people don’t think to ask. Can you fulfill this request or one like it? Do this where you can, when you can, as a end-of-the-year holiday gift to everyone around you:

“And I could use a little love. It was a hard fucking week and I’m spent and sad.”

If I knew diddly about walking a dog, I’d walk hers. However, I would probably kill the poor thing. (He eats random things on the street). I was so pleased to see a friend step up and offer to walk the dog on Friday nights. My part in this one was limited to showing some love.

You can do it. We can do it.

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