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Published on March 25, 2020

Coping with Pandemic Stress

The past weeks have been stressful for individuals and families dealing with the recent outbreak of COVID-19. Fear of contracting the disease, concerns about being quarantined, and disappointment over cancelled events and gatherings can take a toll. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has provided recommendations for people to better deal with the range of emotions involved during this crisis.

Counseling session with masks

Practice Self Care

  • Take breaks from social media and news-related stories.
  • Practice deep breathing, stretching and/or meditation. The Internet can help you get started if you’re new to any of these. This article also has some good information.
  • Eat healthy meals with lots of fruit and vegetables.
  • Exercise regularly. Activities to help you stay active can include: walking, bike riding, cleaning the house, or yard work.
  • Get plenty of sleep.
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs.
  • Unwind with enjoyable activities.
  • Seek connection with others and talk to people you trust about how you are feeling.
  • As much as possible, try to maintain a normal routine. Try to keep up with regular routines. For children, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

If you feel your stress is affecting your daily activities, call your provider. Palos offers a 24 hour hotline, 708.361.TALK.

 If you are overwhelmed with emotions including sadness, depression or anxiety, or if you feel like you want to harm yourself or others, call 9-1-1.

For Parents

Provide a calm and confident presence for your children and teenagers. Remember that young people react in part to behavior modeled by adults in their lives, and are looking to you for reassurance and support. Be attuned to stress in your child, including the following behaviors:

  • Unexplained headaches or body pain.
  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children.
  • Returning to previously outgrown behaviors.
  • Extreme worry or sadness.
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits.
  • “Acting out” behavior in teens, which can include: fighting, throwing fits, anger, slamming doors, arguing, swearing, and isolating behavior.
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past.

Support your child by talking about COVID-19 outbreak, and answer any questions they may have in terms they can understand. Share how you deal with stress, and make an effort to do any of the self-care techniques above together, if possible. You can help your children learn how to cope.