The COVID-19 pandemic, changes in work environments, and worry about our loved ones and community, can make us feel overwhelmed, stressed, or anxious. Sometimes we know something feels off. Sometimes we are so busy, we don’t even notice the ways that these traumatic events have affected us.
Stress affects everyone. It is our brain and body’s way of reacting to a challenge. Not all stress is bad; sometimes it can help you get out of a scary situation or motivate you to do your best. But long-term stress can harm your health, so it is important to pay attention to how you are feeling during difficult times.
Signs of Stress
Stress can be different in different people. It can even feel different at different times. Here are some things that might mean you are under stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
- New or worsening chronic health problems.
- New or worsening mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
Ways to Cope with Pandemic Stress
If you are experiencing stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are some simple steps you can take to care for yourself. During uncertain times, it can help to focus on the things you can control.
- Know what to do if you are sick and are concerned about COVID-19. Contact a health professional before you start any self-treatment for COVID-19.
- Know where and how to get treatment and other support services and resources, including counseling or therapy (in-person or through telehealth services).
- Take care of your emotional health. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and react to the urgent needs to protect yourself and your family.
- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.
- Take care of your body.
- Take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, or pray.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
- Exercise regularly.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
- Find time to relax. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
- Connect with others. Call or text a friend. Chat with a neighbor. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Connect with your community or faith-based organizations. While social distancing measures are in place, consider connecting online, through social media, or by phone or mail.
Health, Mental Health and Use Disorders Treatment and Resources
- DMHAS Addiction Services Bed Availability
- DMHAS Mental Health Bed Availability
- Find Mental Health and Addiction Services in Your Area (select your region)
- COVID-19 & Seasonal Affective Disorder (Yale)
- Coping with Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Network of Care
- 1Word1Voice1Life – Suicide is preventable
- Mental Health and Addiction Crisis Services
- Warm Lines