Whether directly or indirectly, the coronavirus outbreak has impacted every aspect of our life. As we navigate through these unprecedented times and face the difficult challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, taking care of our emotional well-being has become more important now than ever.
As we cotinue to stay safer at home, look for and be sensitive to signs of stress due to COVID-19. According to the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), common changes to watch for include:
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding schoolwork
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco or other drugs
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
- 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, or meditate
- Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
- Get plenty of sleep
- 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.
Mental Health Screenings: Online screening is one of the quickest and easiest ways to determine if you’re experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Mental Health America offers free, confidential, and scientifically-validated screening exams.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: The Lifeline provides 24/7, free, and confidential support to people in distress – you don’t need to be suicidal to reach out. Call 1-800-273-8255 to be connected with a crisis counselor.
Crisis Text Line: If you prefer texting to talking on the phone, text MHA to 741-741 to be connected with a crisis counselor who will help you get through your big emotions.
Domestic Violence Hotline: The stressors of COVID have the potential to increase violence between partners and in homes. If you’re experiencing domestic violence, looking for resources or information, or are question unhealthy aspects of your relationship, call 1-800-799-7233 or go to their site to virtually chat with an advocate.
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: If you or a child you know is being hurt or doesn’t feel safe at home, you can call or text 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) or start an online chat to reach a crisis counselor. They can help you figure out next steps to work through what is happening and stay safe.
Other resources for parents and staff:
Supporting Safety and Well-being of Children and Families During COVID-19 from Sacramento Child Abuse Hotline
Talking to Kids About the Coronavirus from The Child Mind Institute
Talking to Your Child About Coronavirus from the National Association of School Psychologists
Care for Caregivers: Tips for Families and Educators from the National Association of School Psychologists
Coping with Stress from the CDC
Psychological impact of COVID-19 from American Psychological Association