Tips for Managing Anxiety during COVID-19

Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. The Social Distancing concept, which is intended to reduce disease transmission and currently being practiced by communities at large, can be very isolating and lead to increase in stress levels. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who might have more difficulty responding effectively to the stress of a crisis include:

  • Those who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use
  • Children and teens

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, and feel like you want to harm yourself or others please call 911.

In general, health impacts from 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
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

People with physical and mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms. Make sure you continue to take your medications as prescribed and contact your healthcare provider if you find you are starting to feel worse.

Taking care of yourself, your friends, and your family can help you cope with stress. You can do this remotely through phone or video.

Things you can do to support yourself

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  • 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. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Connect with others over phone or video. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.

Look out for these common signs of distress:

  • Feelings of numbness, disbelief, anxiety or fear.
  • Changes in appetite, energy, and activity levels.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares and upsetting thoughts and images.
  • Physical reactions, such as headaches, body pains, stomach problems, and skin rashes.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Anger or short-temper.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Reduce stress in yourself and others

  1. Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media.
  2. 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.
  3. Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  4. Connect with others over phone or video. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling.
  5. Use trusted sources for information such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), The World Health Organization and state health department websites and encourage others to do the same.

For Parents

Not all children and teens respond to stress in the same way. Some common changes to watch for 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
  • Difficulty with attention and concentration
  • Avoidance of activities enjoyed in the past
  • Unexplained headaches or body pain
  • Use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

There are many things you can do to support your child, including:

  • Take time to talk with your child or teen about the COVID-19 outbreak. Answer questions and share factual information about COVID-19 from the aforementioned trusted sources in a way that your child or teen can understand.
  • Reassure your child or teen it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.
  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.
  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.
  • Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members over the phone or through video.

Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

To learn more about what Magellan Healthcare is doing to support clients during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit MagellanHealthcare.com/COVID-19.

To learn more about Magellan Health’s corporate response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to view Magellan’s available resources click here: https://www.magellanhealth.com/news/covid-19/

 

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