Dealing with Stress and Anxiety During the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

surgical mask

The current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic can be a very stressful time for many people. Whether you’re young or old, it’s perfectly natural and normal to feel a great deal of stress and anxiety due to the many unknowns that have accompanied this outbreak. Fear about any disease can be overwhelming and cause strong negative emotions in adults and children alike. So in times like these, it becomes very important to find ways to deal with that stress and cope better with the current situation.


Everyone is different

Remember that everyone is different when it comes to dealing with stressful times and events. How you are responding to the outbreak depends on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and even 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.

What stress during this time might look like

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can manifest itself in many different ways, including:

  • 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.

What you can do to reduce stress

During stressful times, it’s important that you take good care of yourself. Here are some things you can do to support your mental and physical well-being:

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and perpetuate anxiety.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals. Exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Take 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.
  • Learn the facts about COVID-19. Knowing more about COVID-19 — and understanding the actual risk to yourself and and the people you love — can help make the situation less stressful.

If stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.

Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease (NCIRD), Division of Viral Disease.

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