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, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make 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
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
It is 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 watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. It’s good to be informed, but hearing about the pandemic constantly 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
- Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditateexternal icon
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- Avoid excessive alcohol, tobacco, and substance use
- Continue with routine preventive measures (such as vaccinations, cancer screenings, etc.) as recommended by your healthcare provider
- Get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine
- 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
Taking care of yourself can better equip you to take care of others. During times of social distancing, it is especially important to stay connected with your friends and family. Helping others cope with stress through phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel less lonely or isolated.
- If you are struggling to cope, there are many ways to get help. Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
- During times of extreme stress, people may have thoughts of suicide. Suicide is preventable and help is available. More about the risk of suicide, signs to watch for, and how to respond if you notice these signs in yourself or a friend or a loved one, can be found here.
- Free and confidential crisis resources can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.
If you are in crisis, get immediate help:
- How Right Now — Finding What Helps
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- General Public: Care for Yourself pdf icon[348 KB, 1 page]
- Young Adults: Care for Yourself pdf icon[839 KB, 1 page]
- HHS ASPR TRACIE COVID-19 Behavioral Health Resources external icon
- Food and Food System Resources During COVID-19 Pandemic
For Families and Children
- Helping Children Cope during the Pandemic
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
- Coping After a Disaster pdf icon[1.9 MB, 20 pages] – A Ready Wrigley activity book for children age 3-10
- Teen Depression external icon
- Parents: Care for Yourself pdf icon[780 KB, 1 page]
- Family Caregivers: Care for Yourself pdf icon[PDF – 732 KB]
- Students: Care for Yourself pdf icon[688 KB, 1page]
- Food Assistance Programsexternal icon
For People at Higher Risk for Serious Illness
- Serious Illness Care Program COVID-19 Response Toolkit external icon
- Older Adults: Care for Yourself pdf icon[PDF – 911 KB, 1 page]
For Healthcare Workers and First Responders
- Healthcare Personnel and First Responders: How to Cope with Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Emergency Responders: Tips for Taking Care of Yourself
- Disaster Technical Assistance Centerexternal icon
- First Responders: Care for Yourself pdf icon[770 KB, 1 Page]
- Clinicians: Care for Yourself pdf icon[685 KB, 1 page]
For Other Workers
- Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Working Adults: Care for Yourself pdf icon[PDF – 818 KB, 1 page]
- Critical Workers: Care for Yourself pdf icon[PDF – 719 KB, 1 page]
- Teachers: Encourage Your Students to Care for Themselves pdf icon[PDF – 976 KB, 1 page]