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How to cope with stress during a crisis

Identify and cope with some of the most common signs and symptoms of stress.

Brought to you in collaboration with Doctor Anywhere.

Woman feeling stressed

The disruption to our daily lives and routines during a time of crisis is enough to cause many of us substantial stress.

It can be even more pronounced amongst marginalised groups, and those with existing health conditions.

This stress can manifest itself in many ways, and we need to pay attention to of some of the most common signs and symptoms before it develops into a clinical condition.

  • Physical discomfort: Aches and pains, headaches, illness or worsening of medical conditions
  • Low energy: Tiredness or lack of motivation to do even the things that you used to enjoy
  • Sleep problems: Difficulty getting to sleep, waking frequently at night, or sleeping too much
  • Diet problems: Loss of appetite, sudden weight gain or loss
  • Substance use: Increased consumption of alcohol, smoking, medications, drugs
  • Negative feelings: Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or suicidal thoughts

While stress levels differ between individuals, there are steps that you can take to alleviate the situation so that you are in a better position to tackle the uncertainty ahead.

Start writing a journal


This act of taking stock of what has happened during the day is more powerful than you think. Simply penning it down allows you to work through your thoughts and release negative feelings.

On a good day, you can track your successes and progress to give yourself a boost of motivation. On bad days, it is an insightful exercise of identifying factors and emotional triggers that cause negative emotions to surface.

During this circuit breaker, many of us have complained that weekdays and weekends do not seem so different anymore. It is easy to grow numb and feel that each day is as mundane as the last. However, through this journal, you see will see some days are better than others and this can have a huge impact on your positive well-being.

15 minutes of daily stretching    


Benefits of stretching includes improved circulation, posture, prevention of niggling body aches and pains. During this period when massage and physiotherapy is not readily available, one less ache avoided is plenty of trouble saved.

If you are living with family, do it at time when you will not be disturbed for 15 minutes, either through pre-arranged time slot or early in the morning when you know that no one is up and about.

Do note that this 15 minutes of stretching should be mindful and device free. Doing it while watching dramas or YouTube clips do not count unless you are following a stretching routine on YouTube for the first few times. Once you have remembered the routine, put your device away.

There are many 15 minute stretching routines available on YouTube, see a good one to start with here.

Talk to someone

Those fortunate enough to be cooped up with supportive family members could use this chance to improve their relationship and talk about things other than the COVID-19 situation. If that option is not available, stay connected with trusted friends through text, calls, or video calls.

This period has also brought many challenges as we adjust our lives resulting from restricted movement, loss of income and uncertainty of the future. Speaking to another person not only offers a different angle or even a solution, it also provides support to someone else may be going through a similar rough patch but too embarrassed to bring it up.

For certain issues, it may be easier to talk to a stranger than to a family member or friend. If you would like to do so, you can call the National Care Hotline at +65 6202 6868. It operates alongside other specialised service helplines, such as those for mental well-being or violence and abuse.

Online Counselling / Hotlines:

• Fei Yue’s Online Counselling Service: eC2.sg

• Institute of Mental Health’s Mental Health Helpline: 6389-2222

• Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

• Silver Ribbon Singapore: 6385-3714

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