The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted all of us and has been very stressful for people. The fear and anxiety about the disease and what the future holds can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the pandemic can depend on a variety of things. Stress during this outbreak can include:
- Fear and worry about your own health, the health of your loved ones, and finances
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
- Increased time spent on online gambling
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress during these difficult times. Helping each other cope with their stress can also make our community stronger. Things you can do to support yourself:
- 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. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy, such as cooking, working on puzzles, or reading.
- Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling. If you are currently seeing a therapist/counselor, see if they are offering their services using telemedicine.
Call your healthcare provider or your therapist or counselor if your stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors
- Poor school performance
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support children and teens during these times:
- Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. With schools being closed create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well.
- Make sure youth are connecting with their friends and family
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or if you feel like you want to harm yourself or others call: