The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that fear and anxiety related to the COVID-19 outbreak can be overwhelming and can cause increased emotional issues in both adults and children. People that may experience greater levels of stress include those who are at higher risk due to chronic diseases, children and teens that may not be able to understand the disease process, front line emergency and healthcare workers, and people that suffer from mental health or substance abuse issues. The added stress during the pandemic can include increased fear and worry about their own or a loved one’s health, changes in sleeping or eating habits, problems with concentration, loss of sleep, worsening chronic mental or physical health problems, or increased use of alcohol and/or drugs.
To reduce your stress during this pandemic the CDC recommends taking care of yourself, your family, and your friends as a way to distract yourself. To reduce fear and anxiety, take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news or social media stories related to COVID. The CDC points out that constantly focusing on or listening to this information can be upsetting and increase your stress and anxiety. Take care of your body by eating healthy, well balanced meals, exercising regularly, avoiding alcohol and drugs, and getting plenty of sleep. Since we can’t do all the activities we enjoy, find new activities that you can share with your family to unwind and take your mind off the disease. Reach out to people that you can trust to share your fears and feelings. You can reduce your own stress and help a loved one feel less isolated by frequently checking in on them via phone, video chats, emails, texts, or social media.
As we come out of quarantine, what effects can lead to increased stress and anxiety? Some people will experience mixed emotions as we end the stay-at-home period of this pandemic. Fear of a second wave of the disease or having to conform to the new normal of being monitored will be very real to certain people. Feeling like you must continue to wear a mask and maintain social distancing around others that do not share your concerns or being ridiculed for continuing to protect yourself can increase anxiety.
As society continues to learn about and manage this outbreak it is important to be mindful of your mental and physical health. If you find yourself constantly focusing on disease prevention, experiencing an overwhelming fear of contracting COVID, excessively worrying about exposure, or if you have turned to the use of alcohol or another substance to deal with your fear or anxiety, you should seek assistance from your healthcare provider. Many are offering tele-health visits in place of office visits and many insurance companies are covering the cost of these visits similarly to an office visit in response to COVID.