Coping with Stress
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful and overwhelming. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will help you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Stress can cause the following:
- Feelings of fear, anger, sadness, worry, numbness, or frustration
- Changes in appetite, energy, desires, and interests
- Difficulty concentrating and making decisions
- Nightmares or problems sleeping
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, or skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems and mental health conditions
- Increased use of alcohol, illegal drugs (like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine), and misuse of prescription drugs (like opioids)
It’s natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below are ways that you can help yourself, others, and your community manage stress.
- Take breaks from news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but constant information about the pandemic can be upsetting. Consider limiting news to just a couple times a day and disconnecting from phone, tv, and computer screens for a while.
- Take care of your body:
- Get vaccinated and stay up to date on your COVID-19 vaccines.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein, whole grains, and fat–free or low–fat milk and milk products. Eating well also means limiting saturated fats, cholesterol, salt, and added sugars.
- Going to bed at the same time each night and getting up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends, can help you sleep better (seven or more hours per night for adults).
- Move more and sit less-every little bit of physical activity helps. You can start small and build up to 150 minutes a week that can be broken down to smaller amounts such as 20 to 30 minutes a day.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
- Limit alcohol intake. Choose not to drink, or drink in moderation by limiting consumption to one drink a day for women—two for men—on days that alcohol is consumed.
- Avoid using prescription drugs in ways other than prescribed, someone else’s prescription, or illegal drugs. Treatment is available and recovery starts with asking for help.
- Avoid smoking and the use of other tobacco products. People can and do quit smoking for good.
- Continue with regular health appointments, testing, and screening.
- 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.
- Connect with your community- or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, try connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
- How Right Now — Finding What Helps
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- General Public: Care for Yourself [348 KB, 1 page]
- Young Adults: Care for Yourself [839 KB, 1 page]
- HHS ASPR TRACIE COVID-19 Behavioral Health Resources
- Food and Food System Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic
For Families and Children