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Coping with Stress during COVID-19

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has prompted widespread fear and anxiety. Emotions like these can be overwhelming.

Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations.  How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.  The federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) offers some strategies for dealing with stress in a very tough time:

Things you can do to support yourself

Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including 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.

Limit your exposure to news coverage of the crisis.

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.

 

Reduce stress in yourself and others

Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful..

When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.

Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.

 

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For parents

Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include

Excessive crying or irritation in younger children

Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)

Excessive worry or sadness

Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits

Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens

Poor school performance or avoiding school

Difficulty with attention and concentration

Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past

Unexplained headaches or body pain

Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child

Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.

Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.

Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members.

Learn more about helping children cope.

For responders

Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:

Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.

Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt).

Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.

Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.

Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.

Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

For people who have been released from quarantine

Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include:

Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine

Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones

Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19

Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious

Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine

 

For more information from the CDC on COVID-19, click here.

 

 

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