Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. During challenging
times, like the
recent COVID-19 outbreak, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or worried. While
washing your hands and
maintaining social distance from others is necessary to control the spread of infection, it’s
also important to manage your
mental health, too.
Perhaps you’re feeling increased anxiety, irritability, frustration,
isolation, depression, anger, or hopelessness. This could be the result
of any number of factors:
- Financial uncertainty if you’ve been laid off or unemployed during
the outbreak and are suddenly on a reduced or limited income
- Fear and worry about your health or the health of friends and family
Concerns about factors out of your control—are your loved ones taking
COVID-19 guidelines seriously?
Will medical care or community services be disrupted?
- Feeling alone and isolated
- Guilt if others are helping with activities of daily living
- Changes in sleep or eating habits
- Worsening health problems or increased symptoms of existing mental health
If you or a loved one are experiencing any of these behavior changes, you
could be struggling with mental health issues or stress:
- Excessive crying, irritability, acting out, worry, or sadness
- Returning to behaviors you’ve outgrown, especially true for children
(bedwetting accidents for example)
Unhealthy eating or
- Poor performance at school or work
- Difficulty paying attention or concentrating
- Avoiding activities once enjoyed
- Unexplained headaches or body pains
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
How to Cope with COVID-19-Related Stress and Mental Health Problems
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope
with worsening mental health during these troubling times. Here are a
few ways to increase your resilience and cope with the negative impact
- Take breaks from the news when you feel overwhelmed, worried, or depressed.
Be aware of your kids’ news consumption too—children may misinterpret
what they hear and become frightened if they’re exposed to something
they don’t understand.
- Take care of and listen to your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
Exercise regularly, eat healthy, and get plenty of sleep.
- Make time for yourself to unwind. Do activities you enjoy—like reading
- Create and stick to a schedule. If you’re stuck at home, developing
a daily routine can help you and your family feel in control, organized,
and less chaotic.
- Call a healthcare provider if your stress or that of a loved one becomes
too much to handle. Talk to your doctor if you are worried about symptoms
you and or a loved one may be experiencing.
- If you have pre-existing mental health conditions, continue your treatment
and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
- Stay connected and maintain your social networks. Take time to talk with
your loved ones. Virtual communication by telephone or video chat can
help you and your loved ones feel less lonely and isolated. Check in with
- If you’re a parent and your child or teen is feeling frightened,
reassure them they are safe and it’s okay to feel upset. Share how
you’re dealing with stress and encourage them to learn how to cope, too.
Understand the risk of COVID-19 by staying up to date with what is happening
and look to only credible sources for information. The
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and
World Health Organization (WHO) are great sources for reliable information related to COVID-19.
- If you’re unable to work during this time or struggling to keep up
while working remotely, work with your employer to reduce stressors.
- Be empathetic to others experiencing changes in health and wellness during
the outbreak. Offer support, compassion, and kindness.
Assist others in their time of need, if you are able. This can benefit
both the person receiving support and you, the helper. Check on your neighbors,
especially the elderly, who may need extra assistance. Or
consider honoring caregivers and healthcare workers on the front lines.
- Look for positive ways to express feelings of stress, fear, or sadness.
This could include creative activities like drawing or writing.
- Keep things in perspective. While you and your loved ones are in isolation,
health workers and experts are working around the clock to treat those
affected and prevent the spread to others. Start a daily gratitude journal
that helps you to focus on the positive moments of each day.
- Find a mental health community of people who understand and can provide
resources to help you. This may include connecting to a spiritual or religious
Additional Resources for Mental Health Support
Looking for more information on mental health and coping with the effects
of COVID-19? Visit any of these trusted resources.
For additional information on COVID-19 and updates at Frederick Health,