It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry about the COVID
19 breakout. Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change
over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Taking care of your emotional
health during an emergency will help you think clearly and react to the
urgent needs to protect yourself and your family. Self-care during an
emergency will help your long-term healing.
Take care of your body– Try to eat healthy well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, and
get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.
Connect with others– Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family
member. Maintain healthy relationships, and build a strong support system.
Take breaks– Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will
fade. Try taking in deep breaths. Try to do activities you usually enjoy.
Stay informed– When you feel that you are missing information, you may become
more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates
from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially
on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources
of information like your local government authorities.
Avoid too much exposure to news– Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories.
It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly.
Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible
and check for updates between breaks.
Seek help when needed– If distress impacts activities of your daily life for several days
or weeks, reach out and talk to a counselor or trusted adult.
Look out for these common signs of distress:
- Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
- Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
- Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and
- Worsening of chronic health problems.
- Anger or short-temper.
- Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.
Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things
that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.
People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include
- Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19
- Children and teens
- People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and
other health care providers, or first responders
- People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
Children and teens react, in part, on what they see from the adults around
them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently,
they can provide the best support for their children. Parents can be more
reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common
changes to watch for include
- Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
- Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents
- Excessive worry or sadness
- Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
- Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
- Poor school performance or avoiding school
- Difficulty with attention and concentration
- Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
- Unexplained headaches or body pain
- Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
There are many things you can do to support your child
Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak.
Answer questions and
share facts about COVID-19 in a way that your child or teen can understand.
- Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok
if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress
so that they can learn how to cope from you.
- Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including
social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened
about something they do not understand.
- Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule
for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
- Be a role model. Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well.
Connect with your friends and family members.
For responders and healthcare professionals
Responding to COVID-19 can take an emotional toll on you. There are things
you can do to reduce secondary traumatic stress (STS) reactions:
- Acknowledge that STS can impact anyone helping families after a traumatic event.
- Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear,
- Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic.
- Create a menu of personal self-care activities that you enjoy, such as
spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book.
- Take a break from media coverage of COVID-19.
- Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting
your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak.
If you are experiencing a Mental Health crisis, please call the Center
for Mental Health Crisis Line at 970-252-6220 or reach out to Colorado
Crisis Services at 1-844-493-8255 or text “TALK” to 38255.