Coping with Stress During and Infectious Outbreak
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear, anxiety and uncertainty about the disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Knowing the signs and helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
KNOW THE SIGNS
- An increase or decrease in your energy and activity levels
- An increase in your alcohol, tobacco use, or use of illegal drugs
- An increase in irritability, with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
- Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
- Crying frequently
- Worrying excessively
- Having stomachaches or diarrhea
- Having headaches and other pains
- Losing your appetite or eating too much
- Sweating or having chills
- Getting tremors or muscle twitches
- Being easily startled
- Being anxious or fearful
- Feeling depressed
- Feeling guilty
- Feeling angry
- Feeling heroic, euphoric, or invulnerable
- Not caring about anything
- Feeling overwhelmed by sadness
- Having trouble remembering things
- Feeling confused
- Having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
- Having difficulty making decisions
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Things you can do to support yourself
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories and 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, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- 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.
- Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
- If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517).
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Manage Anxiety & Stress
Center for Disease Control and Prevention - Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention - Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Coping With Stress During Infectious Disease Outbreaks
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - Guidance for Opioid Treatment Programs and MAT during COVID-19 Outbreak
SHINE - Care for your Coronavirus Anxiety