Let’s face it, we are living in stressful times. Between the health concerns about Coronavirus, keeping up with the ever changing news, stresses about work or lack thereof, managing children since schools and day cares are closed, being trapped inside due to rainy weather, and worries about running out of toilet paper, we are all really stressed out!
This stress is normal, and may be more likely or pronounced in people with loved ones who are at high risk, or in parts of the world that are heavily impacted by the outbreak.
It is important that we all monitor our own physical and mental health. It is important for us all to know the signs of stress in ourselves and our loved ones, know how to relieve stress, and know when to get help when we need it.
Know the Signs of Stress
What follows are behavioral, physical, emotional, and cognitive responses that are all common signs of anxiety and stress. You may notice some of them after you learn about an infectious disease outbreak.
- An increase or decrease in your energy and activity levels
- An increase in your alcohol, tobacco use, or use of illegal drugs
- An increase in irritability, with outbursts of anger and frequent arguing
- Having trouble relaxing or sleeping
- Crying frequently
- Worrying excessively
- Wanting to be alone most of the time
- Blaming other people for everything
- Having difficulty communicating or listening
- Having difficulty giving or accepting help
- Inability to feel pleasure or have fun
- Having stomachaches or diarrhea
- Having headaches and other pains
- Losing your appetite or eating too much
- Sweating or having chills
- Getting tremors or muscle twitches
- Being easily started
- Having trouble remembering things
- Feeling confused
- Having trouble thinking clearly and concentrating
- Having difficulty making decisions
Know How to Relieve Stress
You can manage and alleviate your stress by taking time to take care of yourself.
Don’t Get Overloaded with Negativity
Set limits on how much time you spend reading or watching news about the outbreak. Staying up to date, particularly if you or loved ones live in places where many people have gotten sick, or if you have loved ones that are at high risk of infection, is important. But, make sure to take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control.
Get the Facts
Find people and resources you can depend on for accurate health information. Learn from them about the outbreak and how you can protect yourself against illness. You may also look to your family doctor, a state or local health department, U.S. government agencies, or an international organization.
Some resources we rely on are:
- Centers for Disease Control
- World Health Organization
- Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
- California Department of Public Health
- San Diego County Health and Human Services
Keep Yourself Healthy
- Eat healthy foods, and drink lots of water.
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol.
- Do not use tobacco or illegal drugs.
- Get enough sleep and rest.
- Get physical exercise.
- Many fitness studios are providing online classes.
- There are many classes available for free on YouTube.
- Walking is a great way to avoid going stir crazy and get some sunshine.
Use Practical Ways to Relax
- Relax your body often by doing things that work for you – take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, engage in hobbies that you enjoy.
- Look into resources that can help you manage stress.
- Pace yourself between stressful activities and fun things.
- Remember to enjoy life, eat a good meal, read, listen to music, take a bath, or talk to friends and family.
- Talk about your feelings with loved ones and friends often.
Pay Attention to Your Body, Feelings, and Spirit
- Recognize and heed early warning signs of stress.
- Recognize how your own past experiences affect your way of thinking and feeling about this event, and think of how you handled your thoughts, emotions, and behavior around past events.
- Know that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty, or angry is common.
- Connect with others who are experiencing stress not only to talk about feelings and share reliable health information, but also enjoy conversation unrelated to the outbreak and talk about positive things in your life.
- Take time to renew your spirit through prayer, meditation, or helping others.
Know When to Get Help
You may experience serious distress when you hear about an infectious disease outbreak, even if you are at little or no risk of getting sick. If you or someone you know shows signs of stress for several days or weeks, get help by accessing one of the resources at the end of this tip sheet.
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline right away if you or someone you know threatens to hurt or kill him or herself or someone else, or talks or writes about death, dying or suicide.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
- San Diego Access and Crisis LIne
- More San Diego Resources