As the nation begins the journey to a “new normal” we are celebrating and grieving at the same time. Many people are struggling with the loss of loved ones, loss of employment, restrictions in activities and the freedom to move about. During this challenging page in history, we need to be mindful that people respond differently to stressful situations and may exhibit behaviors outside of the “norm”.
How you respond to the events over the past few months can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, 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 abuse.
Taking care of yourself, your friends and your family can help you and those around you cope with stress. Helping others cope with their stress can also make your community stronger.
Ways to cope with stress:
- 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
Some reactions to be alert to and may be an indicator that you or someone close to you is experiencing stress/anxiety:
- Uncertainty or frustration about the situation
- A desire to use alcohol or drugs to cope
- Symptoms of depression, such as feelings of hopelessness, changes in appetite, or sleeping too little or too much
- Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) including intrusive, distressing memories, flashbacks (reliving the events), nightmares, changes in thoughts and mood and being easily startled.
If you, a loved one or a friend/employee experience any of these reactions for 2-4 weeks or more, contact your/their healthcare provider or one of the resources below. Remember, we are all in this together, we need to support each other and try to see the beauty in small things. Tomorrow is a new day and the “new norm” will soon be what we do every day! Take care, stay well!
SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline
Toll free: 1.800.985.5990 (English and espãnol)
SMS: Text TalkWithUs to 66746
SMS (espanol): “Hablanos” al 66746
Website (English): http://www.disasterdistress.samhsa.gov
Website (espanol): https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline/espanol
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
Toll free: 1.800.662.HELP (24/7/365 Treatment Referral Information Service in English and espanol)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Toll Free (English): 1.800.273.TALK (8255)
Toll Free (espanol): 1.888.628.9454
TTY: 1.800.799.4TTY (4889)
Website (English): http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.rg
Website (espanol): http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/gethelp/spanish.aspx
Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator Website:
For help finding treatment 1.800.662.HELP (4357)
SAMHSA Disaster Technical Assistance Center
Toll Free: 1.800.308.3515