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Pandemics can be stressful

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. However, these actions are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes 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.

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Take care of your mental health

You may experience increased stress during this pandemic. Fear and anxiety can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations

How you respond to stress during the COVID-19 pandemic can depend on your background, your social support from family or friends, your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors. The changes that can happen because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ways we try to contain the spread of the virus can affect anyone.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

Take care of yourself and your community

Taking care of your friends and your family can be a stress reliever, but it should be balanced with care for yourself. Helping others cope with their stress, such as by providing social support, can also make your community stronger. During times of increased social distancing, people can still maintain social connections and care for their mental health. Phone calls or video chats can help you and your loved ones feel socially connected, less lonely, or isolated.

Healthy ways to cope with stress

  • 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.
  1. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate.
  2. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals.
  3. Exercise regularly.
  4. Get plenty of sleep.
  5. Avoid excessive alcohol and drug use.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others. 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.

Know the facts to help reduce stress

Knowing the facts about COVID-19 and stopping the spread of rumors can help reduce stress and stigma. Understanding the risk to yourself and people you care about can help you connect with others and make an outbreak less stressful.

Take care of your mental health

Mental health is an important part of overall health and wellbeing. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It may also affect how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices during an emergency.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions or substance use disorders may be particularly vulnerable in an emergency. Mental health conditions (such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia) affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood or behavior in a way that influences their ability to relate to others and function each day. These conditions may be situational (short-term) or long-lasting (chronic). People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. If you think you have new or worse symptoms, call your healthcare provider.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row. Free and confidential resources can also help you or a loved one connect with a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

Get immediate help in a crisis

Find a health care provider or treatment for substance use disorder and mental health

Suicide

Different life experiences affect a person’s risk for suicide. For example, suicide risk is higher among people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence. Feelings of isolation, depression, anxiety, and other emotional or financial stresses are known to raise the risk for suicide. People may be more likely to experience these feelings during a crisis like a pandemic.

However, there are ways to protect against suicidal thoughts and behaviors. For example, support from family and community, or feeling connected, and having access to in-person or virtual counseling or therapy can help with suicidal thoughts and behavior, particularly during a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic.

Learn more about CDC’s work in suicide prevention.

Other Resources:

Recovering from COVID-19 or ending home isolation

It can be stressful to be separated from others if you have or were exposed to COVID-19. Each person ending a period of home isolation may feel differently about it.

Emotional reactions may include:

  • Mixed emotions, including relief.
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Stress from the experience of having COVID-19 and monitoring yourself, or being monitored by others.
  • Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have fears of getting the disease from you, even though you are cleared to be around others.
  • Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties while you had COVID-19.
  • Worry about getting re-infected or sick again even though you’ve already had COVID-19.
  • Other emotional or mental health changes.

Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has COVID-19, even if they are now better and able to be around others again.

Resources

For Everyone

For Communities

For Families and Children

For People at Higher Risk for Serious Illness

For Healthcare Workers and First Responders

For Other Workers

Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Employees: How to Cope with Job Stress and Build Resilience During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Updated May 5, 2020

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Whether you are going into work or working from home, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably changed the way you work. Fear and anxiety about this new disease and other strong emotions can be overwhelming, and workplace stress can lead to burnoutexternal icon. How you cope with these emotions and stress can affect your well-being, the well-being of the people you care about, your workplace, and your community. During this pandemic, it is critical that you recognize what stress looks like, take steps to build your resilience and manage job stress, and know where to go if you need help.

Recognize the symptoms of stress you may be experiencing.

  • Feeling irritation, anger, or in denial
  • Feeling uncertain, nervous, or anxious
  • Lacking motivation
  • Feeling tired, overwhelmed, or burned out
  • Feeling sad or depressed
  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Having trouble concentrating

Know the common work-related factors that can add to stress during a pandemic:

  • Concern about the risk of being exposed to the virus at work
  • Taking care of personal and family needs while working
  • Managing a different workload
  • Lack of access to the tools and equipment needed to perform your job
  • Feelings that you are not contributing enough to work or guilt about not being on the frontline
  • Uncertainty about the future of your workplace and/or employment
  • Learning new communication tools and dealing with technical difficulties
  • Adapting to a different workspace and/or work schedule

Follow these tips to build resilience and manage job stress.

  • Communicate with your coworkers, supervisors, and employees about job stress while maintaining social distancing (at least 6 feet).
  1. Identify things that cause stress and work together to identify solutions.
  2. Talk openly with employers, employees, and unions about how the pandemic is affecting work. Expectations should be communicated clearly by everyone.
  3. Ask about how to access mental health resources in your workplace.
  • Identify those things which you do not have control over and do the best you can with the resources available to you.
  • Increase your sense of control by developing a consistent daily routine when possible — ideally one that is similar to your schedule before the pandemic.
  1. Keep a regular sleep schedule.
  2. Take breaks from work to stretch, exercise, or check in with your supportive colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends.
  3. Spend time outdoors, either being physically active or relaxing.
  4. If you work from home, set a regular time to end your work for the day, if possible.
  5. Practice mindfulness techniques.
  6. Do things you enjoy during non-work hours.
  • Know the facts about COVID-19. Be informed about how to protect yourself and others. Understanding the risk and sharing accurate information with people you care about can reduce stress and help you make a connection with others.
  • Remind yourself that each of us has a crucial role in fighting this pandemic.
  • Remind yourself that everyone is in an unusual situation with limited resources.
  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting and mentally exhausting
  • Connect with others. Talk with people you trust about your concerns, how you are feeling, or how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting you.
  1. Connect with others through phone calls, email, text messages, mailing letters or cards, video chat, and social media.
  2. Check on others. Helping others improves your sense of control, belonging, and self-esteem. Look for safe ways to offer social support to others, especially if they are showing signs of stress, such as depression and anxiety.
  • If you feel you may be misusing alcohol or other drugs (including prescription drugs) as a means of coping, reach out for help.
  • If you are being treated for a mental health condition, continue with your treatment and be aware of any new or worsening symptoms.

Know where to go if you need help or more information.

If you feel you or someone in your household may harm themselves or someone else:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

  • Toll-free number 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
  • The Online Lifeline Crisis Chat is free and confidential. You’ll be connected to a skilled, trained counselor in your area.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Call 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224

If you are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety:

  • Disaster Distress Helpline
  • Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746
  • Check with your employer for information about possible employee assistance program resources.

If you need to find treatment or mental health providers in your area:

Mental Health Resources

COVID-19 Resources