Dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic can be stressful for anyone, and for some it can become overwhelming.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:
Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
Worsening of chronic health problems.
Worsening of mental health conditions.
Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
People react differently
People react differently to stress depending on their situation including living accommodations, mental/physical conditions and financial situations just to name a few.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
People who have disabilities including intellectual and developmental.
People who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 (for example, older people, and people of any age with certain underlying medical conditions).
People caring for family members or loved ones.
Frontline workers such as health care providers and first responders.
People who have existing mental health conditions.
People who use substances or have a substance use disorder.
People who are socially isolated from others, including people who live alone, and people in rural or frontier areas.
Tips to help you cope
Here are some practical tips from the Mayo Clinic on how to alleviate stress:
Get enough sleep – the best way to get in the habit of getting enough sleep is to make sure you go to bed and wake up and the same time each day.
Participate in regular physical activity – this could mean just taking a walk around the house, doing some gardening or try a workout DVD – as long as you can keep moving. YouTube has some great videos for persons who are unable to do traditional cardio activities - just type in “chair cardio” into the search bar and you’ll find plenty of videos to choose from.
Eat healthy – eat well-balanced meals and try to eat your meals around the same time each day to keep a regular routine.
Limit exposure to news media – of course we all want to know what’s going on in the world but during times of crisis we tend to overload ourselves with "breaking news". Limit yourself to one or two visits per day to your favorite news media outlets.
Stay busy – discover a new hobby, start a project you’ve been putting off or clean out your house, garage, etc.
Connect with others – We may not be able to visit our friends and family in a traditional way, but we can call them on the phone, chat via webcam or with apps like Facetime or Messenger and there is always email. Or surprise your friends by sending a handwritten letter through the mail.
Relax and recharge – a few minutes of quiet time may reduce anxiety or maybe you’d prefer to soak in a hot bath, read or listen to a book or listen to music. Select a technique that works for you and practice it regularly.
Reach out if you need help
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 911 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) or use its webchat.
You may also call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517).