COVID-19 Stress

  • The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. 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.

    People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include

    • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
    • 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

    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
    • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

    Take the following steps to cope with a disaster:

    • Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Learn more about wellness strategies for mental health.
    • Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Utilize technology and social media networks to maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
    • Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
    • Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like your local government authorities.
    • Avoid too much exposure to news– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
    • Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days or weeks, talk to a clergy member, counselor, or doctor, or contact the SAMHSA helpline at 1-800-985-5990.