Supporting Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic
• Institute Update
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful—it can be difficult to cope with fear and anxiety, changing daily routines, and a general sense of uncertainty. Although people respond to stressful situations in different ways, taking steps to care for yourself and your family can help you manage stress.
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
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
Things you can do to support yourself
- Take breaks from the news. Set aside periods of time each day during which you close your news and social media feeds and turn off the TV. Give yourself some time and space to think about and focus on other things.
- Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat regular, well-balanced meals; get some physical activity every day; give yourself time to get a full night’s sleep; and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to engage in activities and hobbies you enjoy. Engaging in these activities offers an important outlet for pleasure, fun, and creativity.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. Digital tools can help keep you stay connected with friends, family, and neighbors when you aren’t able to see them in person.
- Set goals and priorities.Decide what must get done today and what can wait. Priorities may shift to reflect changes in schedules and routines and that is okay. Recognize what you have accomplished at the end of the day.
- Focus on the facts. Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
Resources for Those in Distress
- In an emergency
- Call 911
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Disaster Distress Helpline:
- Call 1-800-985-5990 (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
- Text TalkWithUs to 66746
- National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Find Help