COVID-19: Stress Management and Mental Health
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
- Fear and 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
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
- Anger or short-temper.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Ways 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. Learn more about wellness strategies for mental health.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy. Try taking in deep breaths.
- 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.
Make sure you are prioritizing your overall wellness and taking steps to reduce stress and anxiety. Tips to reduce anxiety and stress include trying to keep things in perspective, getting the facts from reliable sources, communicating with your children or family and loved ones, and keeping connected with your support system.
Information for parents regarding COVID-19:
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. With schools 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.
Here are resources on activities for parents and children to do while staying home:
Davie Wellness Center’s Virtual Wellness Kit:
- Links to free entertainment, including theater, educational courses, zoo tours, and fitness classes
- Monterey Bay Aquarium in California has 10 live cams to choose from (click here). View cams specifically for sea otters, jellyfish, penguins, and more
- “Goodnight with Dolly,” a weekly story series by Dolly Parton for children and families (click here). Dolly will have a weekly video reading selected books. First up is “The Little Engine That Could;” check out the book’s corresponding activity sheets
- Adult coloring sheets with hopeful messages
- Links to online emotional support sites
- Simple deep breathing exercises
- Eight Feel Good Tips to Boost Your Mood
- LGBTQ COVID-19 Information and Support
- Five foods linked to boosting brainpower
- For Sports Fans-Watch Some Oldies but Goodies:
- The National Hockey League has made all games played during the suspended 2019-2020 regular season available for free until 4/30/20
- NFL Game Pass-Replay NFL games from 2009-2019 and NFL Original Shows for free until 5/31/20
- NBA League Pass-View all NBA games from the 2019-2020 season as well as archived classic games for free until 4/22/20
COVID-19 Stress Management and Mental Health Resources:
- Optum has a toll-free 24-hour Emotional Support Help Line at 866-342-6892 for people who may be experiencing anxiety or stress around COVID-19.
- The National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 offers crisis counseling and emotional support 24 hours a day for anyone experiencing distress or other mental health concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- The Hopeline is also available 24 hours a day at either 919-231-4525 or 1-877-235-4525.
- The Center for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on coping with a disaster or traumatic event, taking care of your emotional health, mental health and helping children cope with emergencies.
- Cardinal Innovations Healthcare offers resources for Medicaid beneficiaries and individuals without insurance.
- The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-TALK) offers free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources and best practices for professionals.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has compiled a selection of resources on mental health and coping
- The American Psychological Association offers five ways to view coverage of the coronavirus.
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness offers COVID-19 Information and Resources.
- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has also provided tips for taking care of your behavioral health during social distancing, quarantine and isolation from an infectious disease outbreak like COVID-19.
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has guidance for helping families cope with COVID-19, and the World Health Organization has published a resource for mental health considerations during the COVID-19 outbreak.