Coping With Stress

Here in Virginia, and across the world, COVID-19 is making changes in our lives. Our work, school, family routines, and social activities are changing in ways we never thought about before.

These changes can cause stress for ourselves and for the people in our lives.  Even people who felt like they were coping well with COVID-19 early on are feeling the stress of this event as it continues to impact our lives.

How can we best deal with this stress and still keep the quality of our lives?

Don’t Forget the Basics! Adult and Childhood Routine Immunizations are Still Important!

Some adults are nervous about going to a doctor’s office. Parents may find themselves nervous about taking their children and teens to the doctor. Before you and your children fall behind, consider the following:

  • Call your doctor first! - Don’t cancel - Many healthcare providers are taking extra steps to keep their offices safe. 
  • If your provider isn’t seeing patients right now, ask about their catch-up plans. Set a reminder on your calendar for any rescheduled appointments.
  • Have you lost your insurance? The Virginia Vaccines for Adults and the Virginia Vaccines for Children Program provides free vaccines. Click here for information for adults and click here for information for children.
  • Vaccinations are still critical!  Contact and work with your provider to stay as up-to-date as possible. Missed immunizations today form the foundation for the vaccine-preventable disease outbreaks of tomorrow.

Reach Out and Check In

With all the changes taking place, it is important to remember stress is a normal response to a crisis and everyone responds differently. Social distancing does not mean social isolation. Reach out through social media, texts, video chats and phone calls. Take the time to check in with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers – not just those living alone – but to anyone who may be having a hard time.

Create New Routines

 During this time, try to keep some type of routine or structure to your day – such as when you wake up, go to sleep or the hours you work from home. Look for ways to adapt and make new routines. Instead of going to the gym, work out at home or go outside for a walk (remembering to stay at a safe distance from others). Have dinner with family and friends using a video chat platform. Go online to attend a live streaming religious service.

Find Ways to Relax and Take Care of Yourself

More than ever, it is important to find ways to relax and take care of yourself. Each day, try to think about one thing you are grateful for, exercise, eat healthy food, and give your mind a break. Guided meditation, yoga, exercise, listening to your favorite music, and writing in a gratitude journal are things that can help lower stress.

Try to find a balance that works best for you between staying informed about COVID-19 and taking a break from news and social media for a time. Hearing large amounts of information over and over can be upsetting.

If you are directly responding to COVID-19, remember that secondary traumatic stress (STS) can affect your physical health (fatigue, illness) and mental health (fear, withdrawal, guilt). Ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or worried that COVID-19 is affecting your ability to care for your family and patients. Learn more tips for taking care of yourself during an emergency.

Set a Positive Example and Provide Support for Children and Teens

Children and teens look to their parents and caregivers as role models for how to react. Take time to talk with your children and teens about COVID-19 in a calm way with information that is right for their age. Tell your child or teen that they are safe and let them know it is okay to feel upset. Keep up with routines as much as you can. Be alert for common, age-specific, reactions to distress.

Know When to Ask for Help

Issues affecting people during COVID-19 are loneliness, grief (old or new), fears about health, worries about jobs and money, and trouble sleeping.  People may also be worried about family members and friends who are at risk for COVID-19 or who are sick. This may be an extra hard time for people living with or in recovery from mental illness and substance use disorders, and their caregivers and family members. People who are surviving abuse and violence in their relationships may be at greater risk of danger due to COVID-19 and staying at home more often during this time. If you or someone you know is going through increased anxiety, depression, abuse, is worried about staying sober or managing use of alcohol or other substances, there are people who can help.

Many counselors and therapists are using telehealth and 12-step meetings are being held online across the world. Other services are also available:

  • NEW RESOURCE*  A “warm” line has been set up to help people who are having trouble dealing with the changes in our lives due to COVID-19.  Callers can receive emotional support and referrals for mental and behavioral health and other services.  Unlike 911, which is used only for emergencies, a warm line offers support and gives people the chance to talk about their struggles and mental health.  The COVID Warm Line number is

(877) 349-6428 Toll Free

9:00 A.M. - 9:00 P.M. Monday - Friday

  • 5:00 P.M. - 9:00 P.M. Saturday and Sunday2-1-1 Virginia. Dialing 211 is a free, confidential referral and information helpline and website that connects people to health and human services they need, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 211Virginia.org also is available online here.
  • For victims and survivors of abuse who need support, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7. Call 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-799-7233 for TTY. If you are unable to speak safely, you can log onto thehotline.org or text LOVEIS to 22522. The Virginia Department of Social Services also has a family violence and sexual assault hotline available 24/7 at 1-800-838-8238.

Other local, state and national mental health and substance use disorder resources can be found in the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services “Self-Help and Recovery Support Resources for Individuals at Home Guide," located here.

Visit “Stress and Coping with COVID-19” to view FAQs.

Visit CDC Daily Life and Coping for more on how you can plan, prepare, and cope with stress before and during a COVID-19 outbreak.

Page Last Reviewed: July 21, 2020