The outbreak of coronavirus disease has been very stressful on all of us. Due to our limited knowledge of the virus and the long-expected wait time before we find a cure— fear and anxiety have been overwhelming adults and children across our cities, nation, and the globe. Mental and emotional health play a large part in keeping us from getting physically sick. It is the first line of defense that allows us to make rational decisions about our physical health. Without mental and emotional balance, we become more sustainable for getting sick. This makes it harder for our immune system to fight viruses and diseases.
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.
• Worsening of mental health conditions.
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Everyone reacts to stress differently. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your health history and demographics. 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 severe illness from COVID-19.
• Children and teens.
• People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders.
• People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use.
Take care of yourself and others. Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress
• 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.
o Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
o Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
o Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep.
o Avoid alcohol and drugs.