Your Family and COVID-19

Written by Phil Payne

July 12, 2020

Like you, the talk in our family always circles back to COVID-19 and the news. We discuss strategies for staying safe, acquiring groceries, reaching out to loved ones to see how they are doing, and the reacting to the news. This pandemic dominates our thoughts and certainly adds layers of stress onto everyone in our household. The CDC has published some advice and resources to help cope with the anxiety that this is causing, and it is some solid advice:

  • Outbreaks can be stressful – The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress can make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.
  • Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
    • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
    • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
    • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
    • Worsening of chronic health problems
    • Worsening of mental health conditions
    • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, your unique personality, and the community you live in. People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  • Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19
  • Children and teens
  • People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors, other health care providers, and first responders
  • People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use

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. Ways to cope with stress include:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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