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Caring During COVID: Experts Say Breathing, Walking Outside Can Reduce Stress

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - While we can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the pandemic, it's been more than a year of our lives being turned upside-down.

And it's taken a toll. So CBS2's Suzanne Marques talked to a doctor about tools to help.

Dr. Rita Eichenstein is a neuropsychologist who helps people work through stressful situations, and this year has been hard on everyone.

"Sometimes, we are so busy, there's just a minute to spare," she said. "But it can make a difference."

Eichenstein says 20 minutes outside can reduce stress levels quickly.

"Research has shown that being in nature is calming," she says. "Also exercise self-regulates, so if you have a 20 minutes, God bless you, you take it and move your body. Go around the block, get some fresh air, breathe in, breathe out, put some music in your ear and go for it. You will be a different person and it only takes 20 minutes."

WEB EXTRA: Dr. Rita Eichenstein has a tip for how to give your brain a break after long Zoom sessions:

But for people on the front lines, stress levels can be astronomical.

"There is likely a high level of PTSD among the helping community," she said.

Signs of PTSD from working on the front lines include not being able to sleep, overreacting, not being able to self-regulate from situation to situation, being stuck in your mind, having nightmares.

PTSD is often hard to catch, that's why it's important to listen to family and friends.

"Give your spouse at least 50% credence that they know what they're talking about," Eichenstein said. "And when they suggest that you are overworked, overwhelmed and unable to go, I would take that very seriously."

When you're in a job that requires you to be the strong one, realize we all have a limit. And if you're thinking you might need help, get it.

"You are not superhuman, that's the key," Eichenstein said. "We think we're super human. Or we have to be super human because we have to rise to the occasion, but we can't always do that once in a while. And sooner or later you will crash and burn."

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