Mental Health Awareness Month: Managing stress and anxiety during a pandemic
Public health emergencies like COVID-19 can be challenging for families and communities coping with social distancing, financial hardships and the fear of the unknown.
For children, adolescents and adults living with mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder and other behavioral health diagnoses, the uncertainty surrounding this pandemic may cause additional stress and worry.
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Senior Vice President and Chief Clinical/Medical Officer Yolanda Graham, M.D., said recognizing how you are feeling can help you manage your emotions. “There has never been a more important time to check in on yourself, and take note of your thoughts, emotions and behaviors,” she said. “Remember, it is OK to feel upset, sad or anxious. Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. Given the current circumstances, it is not usual to feel happy one moment and sad and overwhelmed the next, but you do not have to suffer in silence – help is available.”
Recognize the warning signs
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), common warning signs of stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:
If stress is preventing you from performing daily tasks, the CDC recommends you contact your healthcare provider.
How to cope with stress
Graham notes that if stress becomes too intense, it can negatively impact your overall health and well-being. She suggests the following coping strategies:
“Finding healthy and positive ways to cope with this new normal can help strengthen your resilience,” Graham explained. “While we may be experiencing difficult days right now, remember, we will all get through this – together.”
Available tools and resources
Look below for just a few tools and resources that can help youth and adults manage stress and anxiety related to COVID-19:
Access a full list of tools and resources to help you and your loved ones stay safe and healthy.
How to protect yourself and others
In addition to the resources noted above, listen to a podcast featuring Graham as she offers tips for taking care of yourself, and your family, during COVID-19. “We need to practice social distancing. We need to practice infection control. We need to take the necessary steps to keep ourselves safe,” Graham explained on the Beasley Media Group’s Focus on the Delaware Valley podcast. “However, focusing on what could happen is not going to help our minds and bodies stay healthy.”
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