When you hear, read, or watch news about an outbreak of an infectious disease such as COVID-19, it’s easy to feel anxious and worry about the health and safety of yourself and loved ones. These signs of stress are normal, but it’s important to know how to cope in a healthy way. In the wake of an infectious disease outbreak, monitor your own physical and mental health, know the signs of stress in yourself and your loved ones, and get help when you need it.
Keep things in Perspective
Of course we want to stay up to date on news of the outbreak, particularly if you have loved ones in places where many people have gotten sick, but make sure to take time away from the news to focus on things in your life that are going well and that you can control. Follow the CDC’s guidelines on how to keep your household healthy, but also enjoy conversations with friends and family unrelated to the outbreak. Remind yourself of the many important and positive things happening in your life.
Keep Yourself Healthy
Just like we’re told on airplanes to ‘put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others’, it’s important to make your own health your #1 priority. You can’t take care of others if you’re unhealthy yourself! Physical health is just as important as mental health! Make sure you:
- Eat healthy foods, and drink lots of water
- Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol
- Get enough sleep and rest
- Get physical exercise
Pay Attention to your Body, Feelings, and Spirit
Know that feeling stressed, depressed, guilty, or angry is common after an event like an infectious disease outbreak, even if it does not directly threaten you. Remember to relax your body often—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, etc., whatever works best for you. Talk about your feelings to loved ones and friends often, and know when to see additional help if you need it.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration: https://www.samhsa.gov/
Find treatment: https://www.samhsa.gov/find-treatment