Manage Anxiety & Stress during Covid
The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
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
If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, you can call:
• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) Disaster Distress Helpline: 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746. (TTY 1-800-846-8517)
• Alameda County 24 Hour Crisis Hotline: 1-800-309-2131
o Can text
• California Youth 24 Crisis Line (ages 12-24): 1-800-843-5200
• The JED Foundation - a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults:
o Text "START" to 741-741 or call 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
• Domestic Violence: (510) 536-SAFE
• Parent Stress: (510) 893-5444
If you feel like hurting yourself or killing yourself, please call 911
Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
• Changes in sleep or eating patterns
• Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
• Worsening of chronic health problems
• Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
People with preexisting mental health conditions such as anxiety or depression should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website.
Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Things you can do to support yourself
• Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including 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, and avoid alcohol and drugs.
• 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.
• Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
We recommend mindfulness techniques, and there are apps that can help
Reduce stress in yourself and others
Sharing the facts about COVID-19 and understanding the actual risk to yourself and people you care about can make an outbreak less stressful..
When you share accurate information about COVID-19 you can help make people feel less stressed and allow you to connect with them.
Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.
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 or bedwetting)
• 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.
• Learn more about helping children cope.
For people who have been released from quarantine
Being separated from others if a healthcare provider thinks you may have been exposed to COVID-19 can be stressful, even if you do not get sick. Everyone feels differently after coming out of quarantine. Some feelings include :
• Mixed emotions, including relief after quarantine
• Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
• Stress from the experience of monitoring yourself or being monitored by others for signs and symptoms of COVID-19
• Sadness, anger, or frustration because friends or loved ones have unfounded fears of contracting the disease from contact with you, even though you have been determined not to be contagious
• Guilt about not being able to perform normal work or parenting duties during quarantine
• Other emotional or mental health changes
• Children may also feel upset or have other strong emotions if they, or someone they know, has been released from quarantine.
COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine
Since the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, many of us, even those who have not been infected by the virus, will choose to quarantine in our homes for the upcoming weeks. Capsized travel plans, indefinite isolation, panic over scarce re-sources and information overload could be a recipe for unchecked anxiety and feelings of isola-tion. Here are a few pointers that could help you survive spiraling negative thoughts about this uncertain time.
1.) Reframe “I am stuck inside” to “I can finally focus on my home and myself”
As dismal as the world may feel right now, think of the mandated work-from-home policy as an opportunity to refocus your attention from the external to the internal. Doing one productive thing per day can lead to a more positive attitude. Set your sights on long-avoided tasks, reorganize, or create something you’ve always wanted to. Approaching this time with a mindset of feeling trapped or stuck will only stress you out more. This is your chance to slow down and focus on yourself.
2.) Stay close to your normal routine
Try and maintain some semblance of structure from the pre-quarantine days. For those individuals with children, sticking to a routine might be easier; however as you work from home, it could be tempting to fall into a more lethargic lifestyle, which could lead to negative thinking. Wake up and go to bed around the same time, eat meals, shower, adapt your exercise regimen, and get out of your PJ’s. Do laundry on Sundays as usual. Not only will sticking to your normal routine keep you active and less likely to spiral, it will be easier to readjust to the outside world when it’s time to get back to work.
3.) Avoid obsessing over endless Coronavirus coverage
Freeing up your day from work or social obligations gives you plenty of time to obsess, and if you have a tendency to consult Google for every itch and sneeze, you may be over-researching the pandemic as well. Choosing only certain credible websites (who.int or cdc.gov is a good start) for a limited amount of time each day (perhaps two chunks of 30 minutes each) will be in your best interest during this time.
4.) A chaotic home can lead to a chaotic mind
With all the uncertainly happening outside your home, keep the inside organized, predictable and clean. Setting up mental zones for daily activities can be helpful to organize your day. For exam-ple, try not to eat in bed or work on the sofa- just as before, eat at the kitchen table and work at your desk. Loosening these boundaries just muddles your routine and can make the day feel very long. Additionally, a cluttered home can cause you to become uneasy and claustrophobic of your environment- so keep it tidy.
5.) Start a new quarantine ritual
With this newfound time, why not do something special during these quarantined days? For example, perhaps you can start a daily journal to jot down thoughts and feelings to reflect on later. Or take a walk every day at 4pm, connect with your sister over FaceTime every morning, or start a watercolor painting which you can add to everyday. Having something special during this time will help you look forward to each new day.
6.) Use telehealth as an option to talk to a professional if your anxiety becomes unmanageable
Many licensed psychologists are offering telehealth options over HIPAA-compliant video chat platforms. Remember to reach out for help if your anxiety is reaching proportions that is unmanageable without professional help.
Mental health services are also available through apps such as Talkspace, Calm, and Headspace.
Letting go of illusions of control and finding peace in the fact that you are doing your part to “flatten the curve” will certainly build mental strength to combat the stressful situation the whole globe is experiencing.
Health & Wellness:
- COVID-19 Information & Resources for Students & Their Families
- Health and Wellness Resource Guide for Oakland. A one-stop-shop guide for Oakland while Sheltering in Place by Oakland High Students to get access to everything from first aid, counseling, mentoring and more. “Virtually access your essential needs AND how to take care of your whole self.” https://tinyurl.com/SHOP55ResourceGuide
- The United Way’sCOVID-19Community Economic Relief Fund. Will help with bills, rent, and food. Those in need can call 1-866-211-9966 and provide zip code and will be given a list of local agencies to provide assistance.
- For students needing 5150/harm to self, others or gravely disabled response, call Oakland School Police first at 510-874-7777 then Sandra Simmons, LCSW, PPSC at 510-390-2577.
- National Suicde Prevention and Crisis Response support --Text the word HOME to 741-741 for support Crisis Support Text information
Beacon, the organization that provides mental health services for Alameda Alliance clients, has put together a list of resources for its members. You can check out these resources here: