The increasing number of victims of corona virus disease 2019 (COVID-19) can be stressful for you. Fear and anxiety can cause strong emotions in adults and children. Learning to cope with stress will make you, those around you and your community stronger.
What is the right response? How you respond may depend on your background, the things that set you apart from others, and the community you live in.
People who may react more strongly to the stress of a crisis are:
- Older adults and people with chronic illnesses who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and adolescents
- People who are on the front lines of the crisis, such as doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health problems, including substance abuse problems
Stress can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
- Loss of perspective and lack of motivation
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
Taking care of yourself and your friends can help reduce stress
What you can do:
- Avoid watching TV, following social media, unsubstantiated information or listening to news. Hearing about the pandemic over and over again 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.
- Take time to relax. Try to do other activities that you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Talk to your loved ones about your concerns and feelings.
Limit stress for you and your loved ones
Children react in part to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and teachers handle COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more reassuring to those around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Some changes to watch for include:
- A change in eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and strange behavior in adolescents
- Difficulty concentrating
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body aches
- 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 epidemic.
- Answer questions in a way your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe.
- Let them know that everything is okay if they feel upset.
- Share with them how you handle your own stress so they can learn to deal with your situation.
- Limit your family's exposure to media coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and may be afraid of something they don't understand.
- Try to follow 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 friends and family members.