As people across the country face the continued threat of the coronavirus, the situation continues to be stressful for everyone.
The continued challenges of COVID-19 can create feelings of stress, fear and nervousness. These feelings are normal, and people typically bounce back after difficult times.
Children and teens may respond more strongly to the stress and anxiety caused by COVID-19 and become frightened that they or their loved ones will get sick. Take time to talk calmly and reassure children about what is happening in a way that they can understand.
STEPS TO HELP COPE
The following information can help you cope with stress and support others during this emergency.
- Stay informed with accurate, reliable information through trusted resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful.
- Limit exposure to media coverage, especially for children, and avoid social media accounts and news outlets that promote fear or rumors.
- Care for yourself and monitor the physical health needs of your loved ones.
- Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate.
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals and drink plenty of water.
- Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep.
- Unless you are sick or have tested positive for COVID-19, going outside to exercise and walk pets is okay. In public, keep at least 6 feet away from others and wear a cloth face cover.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Pace yourself between stressful activities and do something fun after a hard task.
- Connect with others through video and phone calls, texts or social media. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
- Be patient with yourself and others. It’s common to have any number of temporary stress reactions, such as fear, anger, frustration and anxiety.
- Encourage children to express their feelings and thoughts. Reassure them about their safety. Use language that is normal and consistent with how you usually communicate. Be creative and think of fun activities that will occupy their time. Keep a schedule, set appropriate limits and maintain usual rules when possible.
WHEN TO SEEK HELP
Call your health care provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. Below are some signs that you or a loved one experience may need to reach out for help:
- Crying spells or bursts of anger
- Difficulty eating
- Difficulty sleeping
- Losing interest in things
- Increased physical symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches
- Feeling guilty, helpless or hopeless
- Avoiding family and friends
If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions such as sadness, depression, anxiety or feel like you want to harm yourself or someone else, call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).
RISKS OF PROLONGED STRESS
Prolonged stress can cause the following:
- 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.
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Worsening of mental health conditions.
- Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress include:
- Older people and people with chronic diseases at higher risk for severe illness.
- Children and teens.
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers and first responders.
- People who have mental health conditions, including problems with substance use.
RED CROSS OFFERS COVID-19 PSYCHOLOGICAL FIRST AID COURSE
To help people build resilience and lend support to others during these difficult times, Red Cross Training Services has developed a new Psychological First Aid: Supporting Yourself and Others during COVID-19 course. The content is based on guidance from the American Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The online course takes approximately one hour to complete and includes content on recognizing stress as well as caring for yourself while supporting your family and coworkers.
FIND COVID-19 SAFETY UPDATES
Visit redcross.org/coronavirus for more information on COVID-19 safety. For the latest information, please visit the CDC website at cdc.gov/covid19. If you live outside the United States, health and safety tips can be found through the World Health Organization and by following your local Red Cross or Red Crescent society’s social media channels (directory).