• Sunil Renukaiah

Plan, Prepare and cope with stress before and during a COVID-19 outbreak

Lockdown has brought in lot of stress to people around the world. CDC has published the below data which is really useful for people to cope up with the stress during these difficult times.


  • Plan and make decisions in advance of an illness.

  • Know how to protect and support the children in your care.

  • Find ways to cope with stress that will make you, your loved ones, and your community stronger.


Stress and Coping


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

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 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 (SAMHSAexternal icon) 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

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

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.

For parents

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.

New resource pack: Positive Parenting In COVID-19 Isolationexternal icon

For responders

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, withdrawal, guilt).

  • 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.

Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during emergency response.

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. You can help your child cope.




Household checklist

As a family, you can plan and make decisions now that will protect you and your family during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Stay informed and in touch

  • Get up-to-date information about local COVID-19 activity from public health officials

  • Ask your neighbors what their plan includes.

  • Create a list of local organizations you and your household can contact in case you need access to information, healthcare services, support, and resources.

  • Create an emergency contact list including family, friends, neighbors, carpool drivers, healthcare providers, teachers, employers, the local public health department, and other community resources.

Prepare for possible illness

Take everyday preventive steps

  • Wash your hands frequently

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • Stay home when you are sick.

  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces

  • Be prepared if your child’s school or childcare facility is temporarily dismissed or for potential changes at your workplace.

Watch for symptoms

  • Stay home and speak to your healthcare provider if you develop any of these symptoms:

  • Fever or

  • Cough or

  • Shortness of breath

  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19 get medical attention immediately

  • Emergency warning signs include*:

  • Trouble breathing

  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest

  • New confusion or inability to arouse

  • Bluish lips or face

*This list is not all inclusive. Please consult your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or concerning.

  • Keep away from others who are sick

  • Limit close contact with others as much as possible (about 6 feet)

If someone in your home is sick

  • Continue to practice everyday preventive actions

  • Keep the ill person in a separate room from others in the household

  • If caring for a sick household member, follow recommended precautions and monitor your own health

  • Keep surfaces disinfected

  • Avoid sharing personal items

  • If you become sick, stay in contact with others by phone or email

  • Stay informed about the local outbreak situation

  • Notify your work if your schedule needs to change

  • Take care of the emotional health of your household members, including yourself

Those at higher risk of severe illness

Take additional precautions for those at higher risk, particularly older adults and those who have severe underlying health conditions.

  • Consider staying at home and away from crowds

  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home

  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick and limit close contact with others

  • Practice good hand hygiene

Children

  • Notify your child’s school if your child becomes sick with COVID-19

  • Keep track of school dismissals in your community

  • Discourage children and teens from gathering in other public places

15 views

Recent Posts

See All

Subscribe to Shoutonweb

  • White Facebook Icon