The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stressful for most people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. 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.
It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a disaster like the COVID-19 pandemic. 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.
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. Many people are using video chats to feel connected to their friends and loved ones and report that it is helpful to relieve anxiety and stress.
Learn more about taking care of your emotional health.
Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.
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, confused or even angry about the disruption to their normal life. 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.
See more information about coping with COVID-19.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- COVID-19: Manage Anxiety & Stress
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
- Taking Care of Your Emotional Health
- 24/7 Bilingual Helpline Open to Provide Emotional Support during COVID-19 Health Crisis: 833-848-1762 (free service)
National Child Traumatic Stress Network
National Association of School Psychologists
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)