The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stressful for everyone. The fear and anxiety that comes with disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in both adults and children. The non-stop news and changing viewpoints only add to the anxiety. Finding ways to cope with the anxiety will help you get through these stressful times a bit easier.
Dr. Henry Ramirez says there are some simple things you can do to keep yourself a bit more germ free. They aren’t hard things, but it does require keeping them on the forefront of your mind:
- Don’t shake hand. Use a friendly and excited wave instead!
- Stay 3-6 feet away from people outside your home.
- Wash your hands often and don’t touch your face.
- Sanitize objects and surfaces.
- Do not share food. Do not eat prepared salads or sandwiches.
- Avoid large gatherings greater than 10 people.
- If you are young, the worry is more about you transmitting the virus.
- Do Not Panic!
The Coronavirus is causing stress and everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. You’ve likely already noticed that some people are “freaking out”, while others have a rather mild response. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the characteristics that make you different from others, your individual faith, and the community where you live. People often respond differently to stress based on their relationship to the crisis. Those who might have a strong reaction include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at high risk for COVID-19 Coronavirus.
- 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, or those who suffer with high anxiety.
If you know someone who is feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety – or you worry they may harm themselves, please 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)
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
- Worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Many people feel stress from feeling like they can’t do enough. Remember, Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Things you can do to support yourself and alleviate stress:
- 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.
- If you haven’t been taking a multi-vitamin, do so now. Look for one that contains Zinc, as that has been one thing that has show some resistance for the coronavirus.
- 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.
- Stay connected with your friends and family online. Form chat groups and share photos. Talk about your favorite movies and Netflix series.
- If you have time to yourself, do things to keep your mind busy. Read a good book, pull out an old puzzle, get your family in a monopoly game, or start planning your next vacation. This too shall pass.
Reminder: Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. The CDC has prepared this data sheet “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.