Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. The emotional impact of an emergency on a person can depend on the person’s characteristics and experiences, the social and economic circumstances of the person and their community, and the availability of local resources. People can become more distressed if they see repeated images or hear repeated reports about the outbreak in the media. People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:
People who have preexisting mental health conditions including problems with substance use
People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders
Reactions during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
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 plans during an emergency and monitor for any new symptoms.Additional information can be found at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSAexternal icon) website.
Things you can do to support yourself:
Avoid excessive exposure to media coverage of COVID-19
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 and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do some other activities you enjoy to return to your normal life.
Connect with others. Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
What are quarantine and social distancing?
Quarantine separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick.
Social distancing means remaining out of places where people meet or gather, avoiding local public transportation (e.g., bus, subway, taxi, rideshare), and maintaining distance (approximately 6 feet or 2 meters) from others.