Coping Emotionally

With the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our rapidly changing public health situation evokes a wide range of expectable emotional reactions in all of us.

Many people are experiencing symptoms of stress, which may include:

  • Shock, feeling unreal, emotionally detached, or numb
  • Anxiety which may include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, and other panic attack symptoms
  • Hopelessness or feeling a lack of purpose in work and/or academics
  • Helplessness
  • Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
  • Increased irritability or anger
  • Crying more often than usual
  • Sleep problems
  • Increased or decreased appetite
  • Feeling more fatigued
  • Headache, stomach ache or other pain
  • Use of alcohol or substances to cope with stress

Others are also struggling with reactions specific to the COVID-19 outbreak, including:

  • Anxiety about you and/or loved ones getting ill
  • Preoccupation with possible signs/symptoms of illness
  • Social withdrawal or feeling alone and isolated
  • Anger and/or lack of trust in people and systems
  • Media and information overload

There are many ways to cope. Remind yourself continually of what you CAN control and see the additional ideas below.

  • Think of other times you have overcome adversity.
  • Create new daily routines to build comfort and consistency.
  • Spend a little time outside every day, take notice of the sound of birds, the feel of the sun or rain, the smell of the season etc…
  • Don’t underestimate the power of BREATHING. Wherever you are, focus on breathing in… holding your breath for a few seconds… and breathing back out. See below for additional ways to practice breathing.
  • Focus on being mindful. Be present in your everyday activities. For instance, you can practice this when you wash your hands by focusing on the movements, sensations, smells and other aspects of this activity.
  • Prioritize healthy eating and sleep habits.
  • Participate in some physical activity, which can help boost your immune system and energy levels, improve your sleep, and decrease stress.
  • Meditate. It is not as hard as it seems. See the apps and links below to get a jump start.
  • Stay informed, but dose information to once or twice a day. Make sure your sources are reliable and do not listen to information before going to sleep.
  • Keep doing what you enjoy and what relaxes you: listening to music, watching TV, talking to friends, taking a bath, cooking, coloring, etc…
  • Focus on observations of good in this time (like acts of kindness, communities coming together, different and new ways to use your time, greater contact with others even if virtual)
  • See this as an opportunity to recognize and be grateful for all the people and good you have in your life.
  • Reach out to the people you love and value even from afar. Connections to people keep us emotionally healthy.
  • Share your feelings with others or journal.
  • Seek professional support if needed.

With knowledge, tools, and the support of others, you can navigate this uncertain time.