For many of us, COVID-19 has disrupted our routines and made everyday activities, such as work and caring for loved ones, challenging. These changes, on top of the general uncertainty around this pandemic, 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
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. Here are a few steps to help people cope:
- Stay informed with accurate, reliable information through trusted resources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Limit exposure to media coverage, especially for children, and avoid social media accounts and news outlets that promote fear or rumors.
- Connect with family and friends through video and phone calls, texts or social media. Offer your support.
- Take care of yourself and monitor the physical health needs of your loved ones. Eat healthy, drink plenty of water and get enough rest. Unless you are showing signs of illness or have tested positive for COVID-19, going outside to exercise and walk pets is okay. But don’t forget to practice social distancing by keeping at least six feet away from others.
- 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.
- Relax your body often by doing things that work for you — take deep breaths, stretch or meditate, or engage in activities you enjoy. If you are religious or spiritual, follow practices at home that provide you with comfort and emotional strength.
- Pace yourself between stressful activities, and do something fun after a hard task.
Many people have experience coping with stressful life events and typically feel better after a few days. Others find that their stress does not go away as quickly as they would like and it influences their relationships with their family, friends and others. Children, older adults, people with disabilities and people for whom English is not their first language are especially at risk and are likely to need extra care and help.
If you find yourself or a loved one experiencing some of the feelings and reactions listed below for two weeks or longer, this may be a sign that you need to reach out for additional assistance.
- 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).
About the American Red Cross:
The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org/southflorida or visit us on Facebook and Twitter at @SFLRedCross.