For many of us, COVID-19 has disrupted our daily lives and made everyday activities challenging. These changes, coupled with general uncertainty about the pandemic, can create feelings of stress, fear and nervousness. These feelings are normal, and people typically bounce back after difficult times.
STEPS TO HELP COPE
Taking care of yourself and loved ones can help you cope and make your community stronger.
- 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. If you are religious or spiritual, follow practices at home that provide you with comfort and emotional strength.
- 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 wearing a cloth face cover.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs.
- Make time to unwind. 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. Hold an image in your mind of the best possible outcome. Make a list of your personal strengths and use these to help both yourself and others stay emotionally strong.
- 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.
- New Psychological First Aid: Supporting Yourself and Others during COVID-19 Course
In order 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.
EVERONE REACTS DIFFERENTLY
People’s reactions appear in different ways, not only in the way someone feels, but in the way they think and what they think about — their sleeping habits, how they go about daily living and the way they interact and get along with others.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis 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
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).
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).