CDC recommendations for dealing with stress

Posted at 6:23 AM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 20:47:30-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- The coronavirus pandemic turned life upside down virtually overnight, and coping with that stress can be difficult. Everyone handles difficult situations differently, but the CDC has these general recommendations.

Common reactions

  • Concerns about protecting yourself
  • Concerns that regular medical care or community services may be disrupted
  • Feeling socially isolated
  • Guilt
  • Increased levels of distress

Ways to cope

  • Take a break! Step away from the news and social media
  • Take care of your body -- get plenty of sleep, avoid alcohol & drugs, take deep breaks, stretch, meditate
  • Make time to unwind, try doing some of your favorite activities
  • Connect with others and share your feelings

If you're feeling overwhelmed or you need help, remember these numbers.

Suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-8255
Domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233
Disaster distress helpline: 1-800-985-5990

For parents

Watch for changes in your child's behavior. That could include:

  • Excessive crying or irritation in younger children
  • Returning to behaviors they have outgrown (for example, toileting accidents or bedwetting)
  • Excessive worry or sadness
  • Unhealthy eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability and “acting out” behaviors in teens
  • Poor school performance or avoiding school
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

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Ways to support your child

  • Talk with them
  • Answer questions and share facts in a way they can understand
  • Limit your family's exposure to news coverage, including social media -- children may misinterpret what they hear or see
  • Try to keep up with regular routines
  • Be a role model! Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, stay connected with friends and family

RELATED: Local mother, doctor shares advice for helping those with autism cope during pandemic

For responders

  • Acknowledge that secondary traumatic stress can impact anyone
  • Learn the symptoms including physical (fatigue, illness) and mental (fear, withdrawal, guilt)
  • Allow time for you and your family to recover from responding to the pandemic
  • Practice self-care activities you enjoy like spending time with friends and family, exercising, or reading a book
  • Take a break from media coverage of the pandemic
  • Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or concerned that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients as you did before the outbreak

Click here for more from the CDC.