COVID-19 can be stressful for many people. Fear and anxiety about the disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children alike.
Public health actions, such as masking and social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make physicians, patients and the community stronger, health advocates said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a reference guide of tips, resources and coping strategies for dealing with stress. A few items are noted below, but the complete guide can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/MSSC0820.
Signs of stress include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
Healthy ways to cope with stress:
- Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19.
- Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in person or through telehealth services).
- Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
Getting help in a crisis
- Call 911
- Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
- National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4AChild
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE
- The Eldercare Locator: 1-800-677-1116
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Mental health/substance abuse: SAMHSA’s National Helpline: 1-800-662-HELP (4357)